Short-form video streaming service Quibi is shutting down. The Wall Street Journal and The Information both report that Quibi employees and investors were notified about the upcoming shutdown via phone calls earlier today.
Quibi launched in April, and was received by viewers with a less-than-enthusiastic reception. The service, while similar to Netflix and other streaming services, except that it provides video content in short 5 to 10-minute snippets. Subscribers would pay $4.99 and up per month. The service was intended to be viewed on smartphones in short bursts of entertainment. The company poured more than $1 billion into original content.
The service unfortunately launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, which Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg partially blamed for the service’s failure. Katzenberg said Quibi’s launch “not close to what we wanted,” and the service ended up with an estimated 400,000 to 500,000 subscribers, most of who took advantage of a free trial subscription at launch, quickly dropping the service when it came time to pay for it.
Quibi had a subscriber number target of 7.4 million subscribers during its first year, coming nowhere near that target before shutting down.
Katzenberg scrambled to save the Quibi service by shopping it to several companies, including Apple, Warner Media, Facebook, and others. Unfortunately for Quibi, no one bit.
As a last-ditch effort to expand its audience beyond the smartphone-only group, it began offering its app on other device platforms such as Apple TV. Quibi launched on Apple TV yesterday, but the move has proved too little too late.
Quibi backers included numerous major Hollywood studios, Alibaba, and Google. The Information reports the company will shut down with $850 million in cash and several hundred million in debt.