Biz / Tech

US online short-form video platform Quibi ends short life

Quibi, a short-form video platform, on Wednesday officially called it quits after just six month in business.

Quibi, a short-form video platform led by Jeffrey Katzenberg, Disney's former chief executive and Dreamworks co-founder, and Meg Whitman, former head of eBay and Hewlett Packard, on Wednesday officially called it quits after just six month in business, leaving nearly 200 employees out of work.

Whitman and Katzenberg confirmed on Wednesday that the Hollywood-based company will wind down its business operations and begin the process of finding a suitor to buy its assets, though reportedly Apple, Facebook, NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia have already passed on the opportunity.

"The world has changed dramatically since Quibi launched and our standalone business model is no longer viable," said Katzenberg in a statement.

Katzenberg and Whitman also explained to their staff: "Our failure was not for lack of trying; we've considered and exhausted every option available to us."

Launched in April with an almost US$1.8-billion fund from top-rank tech companies, Hollywood studios, well-heeled investment banks and venture groups, Quibi was designed for mobile-first millennials and required a monthly subscription fee to watch premium short-form videos on smartphones.

However, it turned out that during COVID-19 lockdowns, young adults opted to watch entertainment on big screen TVs instead or much shorter videos than Quibi's 10-minute-long content.

Charging US$4.99 per month with ads and US$7.99 per month without ads, Quibi had been expected to attract over 7 million subscribers in the first year. But despite paying top dollar for original content from hit-makers like Steven Spielberg, Kevin Hart, Guillermo del Toro, Reese Witherspoon and others, Quibi garnered only 710,000 subscribers in its six-month run.

Quibi nabbed 10 Emmy nominations for short-form videos this year, winning two. But despite its critical success, it was already facing daunting competition in the short-form streaming video space from the free platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Snap Chat.

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