This combination photo shows Meg Whitman at The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment Breakfast Gala in Los Angeles on Dec. 11, 2019, left, and Jeffrey Katzenberg at the 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 19, 2020. Katzenberg and Whitman are bringing Quibi to a phone near you with movies, shows and news served in quick bites. (AP Photo)

Short-video app Quibi shutting down just months after launch

Short-video app Quibi shutting down just months after launch

Short-video app Quibi is shutting down just six months after its early April launch after struggling to find customers.

The company said Wednesday that it would wind down its operations and sell its assets.

The video platform — designed for people who were out and about to watch on their phones — was one of a slew of new streaming services started to challenge Netflix over the past few years, most of which were part of much bigger tech and entertainment companies, like Apple and Disney.

Quibi, short for “quick bites,” raised $1.75 billion from investors including Hollywood players Disney, NBCUniversal and Viacom and its leadership were big names: entertainment industry heavyweight Jeffrey Katzenberg and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman.

But the service struggled to reach viewers, despite a 90-day free trial, as short videos abound on the internet and the coronavirus pandemic kept many people at home. Part of the appeal of the service, which started at $5 a month, was supposed to be that you could watch short videos while out, without access to a TV. Being stuck at home made TV more desirable than watching on a phone, and Quibi only later and slowly rolled out TV options. Katzenberg blamed the pandemic for Quibi’s woes.

The shows never achieved big name recognition, although the platform scored some Emmys earlier this year.

“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,” Katzenberg and Whitman wrote in a letter posted online. “Unfortunately, we will never know but we suspect it’s been a combination of the two.”.

Katzenberg’s connections helped line up stars to make and star in its videos, including Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Lopez. There was a short version of “60 Minutes” and reality shows.

Quibi doesn’t release subscriber figures. Mobile research firm Sensor Tower estimates 9.6 million installations of Quibi’s mobile app since its launch; that doesn’t mean those are actually users. One of the most successful new services, Disney Plus, has more than 60 million subscribers.

“While we have enough capital to continue operating for a significant period of time, we made the difficult decision to wind down the business, return cash to our shareholders, and say goodbye to our talented colleagues with grace,” Whitman, the CEO, said in a statement.

The company said that money from the sale of its assets will go toward paying off liabilities and whatever remains will be returned to investors.

Tali Arbel, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s chief medical health officer publicly criticizes staffer who leaked info

EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, dealing with rocketing COVID-19… Continue reading

The RCMP major crimes unit is investigating after a person was found dead at a residence on Stewart Street in Red Deer’s Sunnybrook neighbourhood Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Red Deer RCMP investigating suspicious death in Sunnybrook

A ‘deceased adult’ was found by officers

A detail from Canyon Light, an oil painting by Joan Clement, in the Scale exhibit by members of the Red Deer Art Club. It’s showing at the Viewpoint Gallery in the city’s Culture Services Centre. (Contributed image).
Outdoor art gallery and scavenger hunt is on in Red Deer next month

But First Friday receptions and patio concerts are postponed

All Red Deer students from Grade 7 to 12 will be learning remotely as of next week, and are not expected to return to in-person classes until Jan. 11. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer schools prepare for temporary remote learning, starting next week

Middle- and high-school students start learning remotely on Monday

Kara McKlemurry poses for a photo while writing Thanksgiving notes to family and friends at her home Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, in Clearwater, Fla. On any normal Thanksgiving Day, McKlemurry and her husband would drive from their home to one of two places: his family's home in another part of Florida or her family's house in Alabama. This year, McKlemurry informed her family there would be no visits because of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Empty seats, delivered feasts as virus changes Thanksgiving

Empty seats, delivered feasts as virus changes Thanksgiving

A KidiZoom Creator Cam by VTech is displayed at the Toy Fair, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in New York. The digital camera comes with a green screen and animated backgrounds allowing kids to go to outer space, get chased by T-Rex, or make things disappear. The camera comes with a tabletop tripod, which can also be used as a selfie stick. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Holiday trends to watch: Adult Play-Doh; stores that ship

Holiday trends to watch: Adult Play-Doh; stores that ship

Deepa Mehta on why more Tamil actors weren’t in lead roles in new film ‘Funny Boy’

Deepa Mehta on why more Tamil actors weren’t in lead roles in new film ‘Funny Boy’

Head Coach Jason Chatwood (left) sports one of the Sylvan Lake Gulls’ first on-field hats next to Aqil Samuel, general manager and president of baseball operations, at Hockey Central on July 26. (Photo by Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake Gulls ticket sales off to flying start

With the inaugural season quickly closing in, the Sylvan Lake Gulls hit… Continue reading

Players at Canada’s World Junior selection camp in Red Deer last hit the ice Sunday in an intrasquad game. On Tuesday, it was announced that two players had tested positive for COVID-19 and the entire camp has since gone into isolation. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Hockey Canada Images)
Canada’s world junior camp to remain on pause for 14 days

Camp halted after two players contracted COVID-19

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council asks for a mask bylaw to be brought forward for consideration

The bylaw would require face coverings in all indoor Town-owned and operated facilities

The Alberta Junior Hockey League has halted the season after the provincial government put in place new COVID-19 measures. (Photo courtesy of AJHL)
New COVID-19 restrictions bring pause to AJHL

The Alberta Junior Hockey League has postponed the season in the wake… Continue reading

Canadian currency (Pixabay.com)
Opinion: These are among the ways we’ll pay off our crippling debt

Ordinary Canadians have begun worrying about something that usually only dismal scientists… Continue reading

Most Read