Shortform video platform Quibi shuts down after just six months

By Ellen Daniel

Short-form mobile video platform Quibi has announced it is shutting down just six months after launching.

The concept behind Quibi is a streaming platform that features films, tv shows and documentaries split into short ten-minute episodes,with the name itself short for “quick bite”. The content was designed to be viewed on a smartphone, automatically switching from horizontal to vertical video when a viewer turned their phone. However, the company later made content available to watch on larger screens too.

Despite backing from stars such as Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Lopez and Reese Witherspoon and content featuring household names including Sophie Turner, Chrissy Teigen and Anna Kendrick, the platform failed to attract high numbers of subscribers.

Quibi launched in April after raising $1.75bn in capital, and initially attracted over 7 million paying subscribers, according to The Guardian, but this number dropped to just 500,000.

The company was also facing a lawsuit from rival video streaming company Eko.

Although the company hoped its platform “would enabled a new form of storytelling”, while other streaming companies such as Netflix enjoyed a surge in subscriber numbers during the first few months of the pandemic, Quibi’s focus on mobile content at a time when many were staying at home may have been one of the reasons behind the company’s downfall.

After it “exhausted all our options”, the company has made the decision to wind down the business and return cash to shareholders.

In an open letter to employees, investors, and partners film producer and Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and Chief Executive Meg Whitman said: “Our failure was not for lack of trying. We’ve considered and exhausted every option available to us.

“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.

“Unfortunately, we will never know but we suspect it’s been a combination of the two. 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.”

Quibi said it will explore selling on the rights to some of its content over the next few months .

Read more: Netflix Q3 subscriber growth stalls amid pandemic surge slowdown.