Well it only took six months but Quibi, the short-form streaming service launched by Jeffrey Katzenberg, has officially announced that they are throwing in the towel. In an open letter posted on Medium, Katzenberg confirmed that the company has “exhausted every option available to us” and that they will now “wind down the business, return cash to our shareholders, and say goodbye to our colleagues with grace.” The service launched back in April but has since struggled to find an audience. It also struggled to launch any noteworthy shows despite boasting an impressive roster of directors and stars including Sam Raimi, Kevin Hart, Jason Reitman, Antoine Fuqua, Idris Elba and Steven Spielberg (ironically, Spielberg’s show never saw the light of day). Hit the jump for more details.
There were signs that Quibi was in trouble when free 90-day trial period ended and it was reported that just 8% of people who downloaded the app converted to a paid subscription. In recent months, Katzenberg was said to have been trying to sell the company off to another media or tech company but apparently no one was interested. Katzenberg believes that the service failed “because the idea itself wasn’t strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing.” That being said, the company raised nearly $2 billion but they never came up with a single breakout show.
While it seems logical that COVID-19 was a major reason for its failure, in some ways this was the perfect time to launch a new streaming service. A bigger problem is probably that they focused on a mobile-only audience at a time when no one was leaving the house and they took too long to add Chromecast or Airplay functionality (just this month finally launched apps for Apple TV, Android TV and Fire TV). Not to mention the fact that the mobile-only audience they wanted was simply obsessed with Tik Tok instead. What did you think of Quibi and do you think it could have succeeded under different circumstances?