Quibi founder pens open letter following the streaming service's failure

Writer: Florey DM

Despite having nearly USD2 billion in investment from major studios, Quibi did not quite take off.
Despite having nearly USD2 billion in investment from major studios,
Quibi did not quite take off.

22 Oct – Short-form video streaming service Quibi turns out to be a short-lived dream for founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, who earlier today penned an open letter to apologise after it was announced that Quibi is shutting down.

It's barely been six months since the streaming service was launched on 6 April 2020, but its failure to find a foothold in a market dominated by the likes of Netflix and YouTube has led to its early demise.

In the open letter posted on Medium "to the employees, investors, and partners who believed in Quibi and made this business possible", Katzenberg and Quibi CEO Meg Whitman stated the following:

"We started with the idea to create the next generation of storytelling and because of you, we were able to create and deliver the best version of what we imagined Quibi to be. So 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.

"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."

Quibi might have failed due to two reasons, according to the duo. "Because the idea itself wasn't strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing," they said.

Quibi CEO Meg Whitman and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg said they have tried everything
to keep the streaming service going (Photo source: Michael Buckner | Variety).

Despite having quite a large number of content made by A-list celebrities, such as Will Smith's stand-up comedy series "The Joka", Antoine Fuqua's thriller drama "#FreeRayshawn" and Sophie Turner's survival drama "Survive", this was not enough to attract subscribers.

While Katzenberg and Whitman were confident people being stuck at home would mean more eyes for their streaming service, it proved to be the opposite as viewers got tired of always having to be glued to their smartphones to watch the content, whereas other streaming services' content is viewable on bigger screens.

Variety has just reported that Quibi finally brought the service to Apple TV, Amazon's Fire TV and Google TV/Android TV, but looks like this came too late.

The mobile subscription-video platform had more than USD1.7 billion in investment from Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, MGM, WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS, as well as Wall Street's Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, according to Deadline.

Katzenberg said in an interview with the online news site, "We want to maximize the return to our investors here and those numbers are going to be sizeable. We are going to return a lot of money to them."

Both he and Whitman stated that they were not pressured by their investors regarding the shutdown, but it was the right thing to do.

Stating that "there's a wind-down that will take place over the next couple of months," they will be looking for buyers who will allow Quibi and its content to "continue on, on somebody else's platform."

(Photo source: Quibi | Adweek)

Cinema Online, 22 October 2020