Quibi is dead, RIP Quibi. Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s Icarus, his streaming service that flew too close to the sun and totally misjudged what audiences are looking for right now, has officially shut down operations less than a year after it launched. Its little life flew by…in a Quibi.
Variety reports that, as of this morning, Quibi is officially dead. The Quibi app is now no longer operable, bringing a quiet end to Katzenberg’s $1.75 billion streaming project that was intended to revolutionize the way people watched things on their phone. The Quibi app will remain on users’ devices until they delete it, but the app no longer allows users to sign in (returning an error message if they try) or access any Quibi content.
Quibi’s inevitable death comes two months after Quibi Holdings LLC announced it would be shutting down, less than seven months after its April 6 launch. But the mobile streaming platform, which promised subscribers daily output of “quick bite” originals that ran less than 10 minutes long, never really got its foothold in the competitive streaming arena since it launched. It first fielded mockery of its name (short for “quick bites” in reference to its short 8-10 minute episodes) before dealing with the unimpressed reception to its original content. Things would only get worse for Quibi, which saw a dramatic drop in subscribers after its 90-day trial offered at launch ended, and the loss of billions of dollars in its first quarter.
Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman launched the start-up with the intention of providing viewers with an on-the-go alternative to streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, combining the ease of short YouTube videos with the prestige of big-name actors and creators. But it was a complete failure on all of those counts, failing to rustle up attention or praise for the short-form storytelling, which was really just long-form storytelling chopped up in 10-minute intervals. Katzenberg would end up blaming the weak April 2020 launch of Quibi on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, claiming that lockdown had rendered his streaming service — designed for working people on the go to watch content while commuting or on their breaks — useless.
But it feels like Quibi was doomed from the start — an ill-fated venture by out-of-touch executives who thought they had a finger on the pulse of streamers. It would almost be sad if it wasn’t so funny. Now, Quibi joins the echelons of expensive failed entertainment experiments, alongside MoviePass. RIP Quibi, you were a real one.
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