Quibi, the shortform mobile-focused streaming service, is going bust just six months after it launched.
The Wall Street Journal broke the news Wednesday. A short time later, Quibi founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman confirmed in a Medium post that the platform would be going out of business.
“It is with an incredibly heavy heart that today we are announcing that we are winding down the business and looking to sell its content and technology assets,” Katzenberg and Whitman wrote in their open letter to employees, investors, and partners.
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Quibi, short for quick bites, launched in April at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The streamer offered a free trial, with subscriptions costing $4.99 with ads or $7.99 without ads.
The platform was filled more than 100 original programs, including #FreeRayshawn [shown above]. The drama starring Laurence Fishburne, Stephan James and Jasmine Cephas just won two Emmy Awards.
Katzenberg and Whitman raised close to $2 billion to fund the service and filled it with star-studded content. The two said in their letter that they plan to lay off Quibi’s staff and return the remaining funds they raised to investors.
“Quibi was a big idea and there was no one who wanted to make a success of it more than we did,” they said. “Our failure was not for lack of trying; we’ve considered and exhausted every option available to us.”
In September, Quibi announced that attorney and political commentator Angela Rye would be hosting a five-part docuseries titled All Her With Angela Rye on women in the U.S. creating change with their voices and actions.
Despite offering a wide variety of content, Quibi struggled to bring in paying subscribers. Part of the problem, there is an abundance of free short-form content on YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook Watch.
In their Medium post, Katzenberg and Whitman admitted the idea for the service may not have been given enough thought.
“We created a new form of mobile-first premium storytelling,” they said. “And yet, 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.”
An announcement later posted on the Quibi website said it will stop streaming content in early December.