The short-form video streaming service Quibi has announced that it will close down only six months after it launched in April.
Quibi, the mobile-only streaming app, said it will shut down just a few months after its launch due to its failure to attract enough subscribers. According to the company, launching its service during the coronavirus pandemic caused “unprecedented challenges”.
What is Quibi?
The app, which derives its name from the phrase “quick bite”, offers videos that had been advertised as being ideal for short breaks or commuting. It has commissioned some of Hollywood’s biggest names to make content for its streaming service.
The shows available on the app are 10 minutes or shorter while movies are broken into segments.
The service boasts its feature called Turnstile, which allows viewers to keep the image full-screen, whether they hold their phone in landscape or portrait mode.
Show creators for Quibi have also framed their shots so that they can suit either aspect ratio, and in some cases, reveal a different point-of-view.
The company offers the streaming service at $4.99 per month for basic access and $7.99 for an ad-free version. CEO Meg Whitman and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg announced the details of the service at CES 2020.
Whitman previously served as CEO of eBay and Hewlett Packard Enterprise while Katzenberg produced some of Disney’s best known animated movies before heading up Dreamworks Animation.
Among those involved with Quibi are directors Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi and Guillermo del Toro, models Chrissy Teigen and Tyra Banks, and actors Bill Murray, Idris Elba and Reese Witherspoon.
Whitman announced that the short-form video streaming app was downloaded 1.7 million times in its first week
What caused the failure?
A week after its launch, Whitman announced that the short-form video streaming app was downloaded 1.7 million times.
Whitman claimed she didn’t believe the launch had been affected by coronavirus pandemic. The former HP chief said: “It turns out people have in-between moments at home. We don’t actually think it hurt us.”
However, after several months, the company announced its failure.
Quibi was predicated on addressing the need for short content during the down time that people have while out and about, and their tendency to occupy those gaps using their phones.
The coronavirus pandemic greatly undermined this as people were forced to stay home due to lockdowns. Some critics also questioned whether people who use search for news, sports scores and existing short-form videos were also interested in serialized drama shows.
There is also the fact that Quibi launched months after Disney and Apple TV+ entered the market while trying to compete with the established HBO Max and Comcast’s Peacock.
Katzenberg and Whitman wrote in an open letter:”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.”
“The circumstances of launching during a pandemic is something we could have never imagined,” they added.
However, Jim Nail, principal analyst at the consultancy Forrester, argued: “The pandemic gives them a good excuse for their failure, but I think the real problem was that the idea of episodic content in five-minute chunks isn’t what people are looking for on their smartphone: they want the six second dance moves on TikTok or an influencer video on YouTube or Instagram.”