Perhaps in another time, in another world, Quibi would have succeeded. But new reports suggest that the short-form streaming service may shut down soon.
According to The Information, Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg has tried to sell Quibi’s content catalog to both NBCUniversal and Facebook, both of which declined the offer. The report points to more signs of Quibi’s imminent demise including canceled strategy meetings, employees meeting for goodbye drinks and Katzenberg reportedly flat-out telling people that he may have to shut the whole thing down.
Another report suggested that Katzenberg called investors on Wednesday to let them know he's shutting down Quibi.
This follows a Wall Street Journal report in September that suggested Quibi management is exploring several strategic options, including a possible sale. Quibi is also reportedly looking at potentially raising more money or going public by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company.
Quibi responded to the report and said that its launch has been successful.
"[CEO Meg Whitman] and Jeffrey are committed to continuing to build the business in the way that gives the greatest experience for customers, greatest value for shareholders and greatest opportunity for employees. We do not comment on rumor or speculation," a Quibi spokesperson said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the New York Times reported that Quibi had been installed by 3.5 million customers and that the service only had 1.3 million active users. Executives blamed Quibi’s slow start on the coronavirus pandemic and said the early engagement figures are “not close to what we wanted.”
Quibi was targeting about 7 million paid subscribers in the first year and wanted to hit 16 million by year three, according to the report.
Quibi launched in April priced at $4.99 with ads and $7.99 without ads. The service was initially focused on only delivering its content – which is chopped up into 10-minute episodes – to mobile devices, envisioning customers consuming those quick bites during commutes and other small breaks in busy days. However, the pandemic shifted many Americans to a work-from-home lifestyle and placed even more emphasis on connected TV.
Quibi has tried to course correct and has now released streaming apps for many major connected TV platforms including Apple TV, Android TV and Amazon Fire, but it could be too late.