Shortform streaming service Quibi has announced it’s closing down, barely six months after launching.
Founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman told investors that $US350 million out of the initial $US1.75 billion in funding remains.
The company will now attempt to return some of the funding to investors.
Despite only launching in April, the writing had been on the wall for some time for the streaming service.
A mobile-only platform, Quibi attempted to entice viewers with a 90-day free trial and a relatively affordable $US5 a month pricetag.
However, the app reportedly has only 500,000 paying customers, despite initially attracting 7 million.
Katzenberg and Whitman had worked with a restructuring firm to find a buyer, but to no avail, according to The Guardian.
“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,” the company said in a statement earlier this morning.
“Quibi was a big idea and there was no one who wanted to make a success of it more than we did. Our failure was not for lack of trying; we’ve considered and exhausted every option available to us.”
The company reportedly told its 200 employees the news in an all-hands internal meeting on Tuesday.
At launch, the service had over 50 original titles including originals with Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen, Chance the Rapper, Liam Hemsworth, Sophie Turner, Lena Waithe, Nicole Richie and Reese Witherspoon.
It had also reportedly approved upcoming projects with Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi, Antoine Fuqua, Anna Kendrick, Rachel Brosnahan, Issa Rae, Kevin Hart, Steven Soderbergh and the Kardashians,
In the postmortem, the company said it “will never know” the exact reasons for the service’s failure, but suspected the COVID-19 pandemic had been a contributing factor.
“The circumstances of launching during a pandemic is something we could have never imagined but other businesses have faced these unprecedented challenges and have found their way through it. We were not able to do so.”
The Quibi team had clearly hoped it would enjoy the same audience growth during the pandemic which the likes of Netflix and Stan have enjoyed.
However, the growing number of streaming options available to audiences – as well as the popularity of social media platforms like TikTok – likely led to the demise.