When Quibi launched more than a month ago (on April 6), the executives at the streaming platform recognized that it was a big risk to do so during a global pandemic, but with everyone staying home, a new streaming option seemed like a decent idea. And the first week saw almost 2 million downloads of the new app on mobile devices, pointing to the fact that maybe Quibi could be a viable new streaming competitor. Now, a month later, things are looking a bit more grim.
Speaking to Deadline, Meg Whitman, CEO of Quibi, talked about the new numbers and how the launch of the streaming service has come in “slightly below expectations.” According to Quibi, a month after launch, the app has only been downloaded 3.5 million times, with only 1.3 million active users. Not great when you consider that roughly half of the downloads came in the first 7 days. The reason for the slow launch of the streaming service? Well, Whitman thinks that the pandemic forcing people to stay inside has made the “on-the-go” streaming service less useful.
“We were designed for a different use case, no question about it,” Whitman said. “But we’re pretty pleased about where we are. As the country begins to open, that will be helpful to the use case.”
For those that haven’t downloaded the streaming service, Quibi is a mobile-only service that provides “quick bites” of content (chunks of 7 to 10 minutes in length) of TV series aimed at people that have short spurts of time when they’d normally want to watch something.
Quibi executive Jeffrey Katzenberg took a much more blunt attitude to the launch of the streaming service. Instead of giving the diplomatic answer that still sounds hopeful, he’s much more upfront about the disappointment, as well as the cause of the low numbers.
“Is it the avalanche of people that we wanted and were going for out of launch? The answer is no,” Katzenberg said (via NY Times). “It’s not up to what we wanted. It’s not close to what we wanted.”
He added that he blames “everything that has gone wrong” with the launch on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now that reality has set in, Whitman and the folks at Quibi are being more realistic about their projections for the first year of business. Originally, they expected to have roughly 7 million subscribers by the end of the first year, but that is likely not going to be met. But the platform is still charging ahead with its plan to release two new shows a week until Thanksgiving.
“I’m feeling very confident in what we’re doing,” Whitman said. “We now have a chance to hone in on what we’re doing.”
She added, “We’re learning something new every day.”