Quibi — the shortform mobile-focused streaming service — is shutting down after just over six months of operation, making it one of the shortest-lived streaming services to date, according to The Wall Street Journal.
There is any number of factors that can be pointed to in unpacking Quibi’s demise: the launch of a mobile-only streaming service at the height of a global pandemic when users were stuck at home; the lack of any real breakout content that was compelling enough to tempt subscribers; or the fact that shortform video content has a nearly infinite amount of free competition in the form of YouTube, TikTok, and other platforms.
It’s not clear what will happen to the company’s lineup of expensive, star-studded original shows and shortform films after the shutdown. An earlier report indicated that co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg had courted companies like Facebook and NBCUniversal to pick up Quibi’s content but ultimately failed.
Disclosure: Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, is an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company. Vox Media also has a deal with Quibi to produce a show, and there were early talks about a Verge show as well.
Quibi launched on April 6th, 2020, just over six months ago, with two plans: $4.99 (with ads) or $7.99 (ad free). The company sought to distinguish itself by focusing exclusively on mobile devices at launch, complete with an innovative system where each show was filmed and edited in both portrait and landscape formats, allowing it to be viewed in any orientation on a smartphone. There was no free option, outside of a lengthy free trial, and no TV apps until just yesterday, when the company launched apps for the Apple TV, Android TV, and Fire TV.
Despite the $1.75 billion Katzenberg and co-founder and CEO Meg Whitman raised, Quibi burst onto the scene with more of a whimper than a bang. While it had plenty of big names attached to its content — and even managed to game its way into two Emmy award wins — it never seemed to manage to actually garner many paid subscribers.
The Verge has reached out to Quibi for additional comments.