Only six months after its launch, Quibi is shutting down. The streaming service endeavoured to deliver “quick bites” of “movie-quality” content straight to users’ phones in five to ten-minute chunks, but will officially go offline on December 1.
CEO Meg Whitman told Deadline that Quibi had experimented with different trial and marketing options over the summer to course-correct, but “ultimately none of it really changed the fundamental answer, that we needed more capital and we needed more capital relatively soon.”
“We’ve looked very clear-eyed at the data and said what’s the right thing to do […] the hard right but the right thing to do is to return cash to shareholders.”
“Quibi is not succeeding,” Whitman elaborated in a joint open letter with Quibi co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberger “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.”
Quibi was bold from the start, taking on other giant streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime. However the service faced a herculean obstacle from the moment it launched — the Covid-19 pandemic. With many people stuck in their homes, the platform’s on-the-go service model was a poor fit.
A long list of respectable actors and directors were onboard to produce Quibi content, including Chrissy Teigen, Dwayne Johnson, Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Tiny Fey, and Idris Elba. It even managed to earn ten Emmy nominations in short-form categories and won two awards: Laurence Fishburne and Jasmine Cephas Jones won for their performances in #FreeRayshawn. (However it dominated the nominations in the short-form categories and perhaps won with sheer volume instead of quality alone.)
Other content included Chrissy’s Court, a court show starring Teigen;, a Punk’d revival starring Chance the Rapper; The Most Dangerous Game, another reinterpretation of The Most Dangerous Game, starring Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz; and I Promise, a documentary produced by LeBron James about the elementary school he opened in Akron, Ohio.
As for the future of the platform’s programming, Whitman and Katzenberger mentioned “over the coming months we will be working hard to find buyers for these valuable assets who can leverage them to their full potential.”