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Quibi reportedly shutting down: So much for launching a mobile streaming service during a pandemic



Quibi’s launch timing couldn’t have been worse. And that’s why the Wall Street Journal report that the mobile-focused streaming service is flaming out after only about six months hardly comes as a shock.


Back in the spring, Quibi’s hopeful premise was that folks would pull out their phones to watch original star-studded bite sized (5-to-10 minute) video content during lunch breaks or while commuting. Only people stopped commuting after the outbreak of COVID-19.


Quibi faced tall odds, even without a pandemic. Though the well-funded startup attracted a Who’s Who roster of Tinseltown talent—big names included Jennifer Lopez, Idris Elba, Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg and the Rock--and was helmed by former Hewlett Packard Enterprises CEO Meg Whitman and Hollywood veteran Jeffrey Katzenberg, people were already suffering from streaming video fatigue.


Moreover, Quibi was charging a $4.99 monthly subscription fee when so much video content via the likes of YouTube and TikTok is free.


Ironically, it was only this week that Quibi launched apps for Apple TV, Android TV, and Amazon’s Fire TV that would let you watch the video shorts in the living room. Did someone say, too little too late?


With far fewer subscribers than Quibi obviously was banking on, the business, barring some unforeseen savior, is seemingly toast.


There are still unanswered questions, notably what becomes of the Quibi content that is already out there or has been produced?


Here’s what I wrote in USA TODAY about Quibi in January at CES in Las Vegas, where I spoke with both Katzenberg and Whitman as they attempted to drum up interest.


Email: edbaig@gmail.com; Follow @edbaig on Twitter