After several tumultuous months during which each new week brought more bad news for Quibi, it appears the streaming service is throwing in the towel.
Following earlier reports that Quibi had been courting potential buyers for its beleaguered short-form video service—which bet big on its so-called Turnstyle technology that lets mobile users see two different perspectives depending on their phone’s orientation—it seemed as though the company’s leadership was looking to offload the service onto someone else. That was followed by a report from the Information this week that an imminent shutdown was another possibility.
On Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported that Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg notified investors that he was indeed shutting the service down mere months after launching in April. While Katzenberg has repeatedly blamed the pandemic for Quibi’s failure to launch, Quibi failed to meet viewers where they preferred to watch until long after buzz about the service had been drowned out by the launch of rival services like Peacock and HBO Max.
As recently as the past few weeks, the company was still sending promotional emails about featured content. Quibi did not immediately return multiple requests for comment.
Should Quibi indeed be shuttering, however, it’s without question one of most spectacular tech failures in recent memory.
Update 10/21/20 6:30 p.m. ET: In an open letter, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman confirmed the news they are “winding down the business and looking to sell its content and technology assets.”
“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,” they wrote. “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.”
Read the full letter right here.