Quibi is shutting down 6 months after launch: 'We've considered and exhausted every option'
It's time to say Quib-bye to Quibi.
The short-form streaming service announced Wednesday that it is shutting down, just over six months after its April launch. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news. Quibi has faced a slew of persistent problems since launching, including predominantly negative reviews for its content, lower-than-expected subscriptions, a patent lawsuit over its streaming technology, and the departures of multiple high-profile executives.
“The world has changed dramatically since Quibi launched and our standalone business model is no longer viable,” founder Jeffrey Katzenberg said in a statement. “I am deeply grateful to our employees, investors, talent, studio partners and advertisers for their partnership in bringing Quibi to millions of mobile devices.”
Katzenberg, a Hollywood veteran and former high-ranking Disney and DreamWorks executive, pitched Quibi as a game-changing development for streaming. With content available exclusively on smartphones in "quick bites" running 10 minutes or less, the service was targeted at viewers on the go, and had the misfortune of launching just as the COVID-19 pandemic confined Quibi's would-be subscribers to their homes.
"I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus," Katzenberg told The New York Times in May. "Everything."
In an open letter signed by Katzenberg and Quibi CEO Meg Whitman, the executives wrote, "Quibi is not succeeding. Likely for one of two reasons: because the idea itself wasn’t strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing. Unfortunately, we will never know but we suspect it’s been a combination of the two. The circumstances of launching during a pandemic is something we could have never imagined but other businesses have faced these unprecedented challenges and have found their way through it. We were not able to do so."
In the months leading up to its launch, Quibi assembled a massive lineup of projects from A-list talent, as well as $1.75 billion from investors including Disney, NBCUniversal, and Sony. But an audience for those projects never truly materialized. In July, reports emerged that only about 72,000 of the service's early users kept their subscriptions after their free trials had ended. Other reports indicated that just 2 million customers were projected to sign up in the first year, 30 percent of the company's initial subscriber goal. Quibi repeatedly claimed these numbers were inaccurate, but never offered subscription data of its own.
"Quibi was a big idea and there was no one who wanted to make a success of it more than we did," the open letter adds. "Our failure was not for lack of trying; we’ve considered and exhausted every option available to us. While the result was not what any of us wanted, we did accomplish a number of things and we are very proud of what the talented Quibi team has built with the blood, sweat, and tears that they poured into this business over these past two years."
Katzenberg began trying to sell the company last month, but apparently found no takers. Quibi will continue to seek buyers for its assets in the coming months as the company is dissolved.