Jeffrey Katzeberg’s short-form video platform Quibi is exploring strategic options including a possible sale as it struggles to add subscribers in a highly competitive streaming landscape, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal Monday.
Quibi launched in April in the midst of a pandemic with costly, high production value short content for cell phones as people were stuck in shelter at home mode. The WSJ said Quibi is also considering raising additional cash or merging with a special purpose acquisition company, called a SPAC.
A Quibi spokesperson said the company doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation, adding, “Quibi has successfully launched a new business and pioneered a new form of storytelling and state-of-the-art platform. Meg and Jeffrey are committed to continuing to build the business in the way that gives the greatest experience for customers, greatest value for shareholders and greatest opportunity for employees.”
Quibi Earns First Pair Of Emmys With Wins For ‘#FreeRayshawn’ Stars Laurence Fishburne & Jasmine Cephas Jones
Quibi launched with a reported $1.75 billion in investment from a host of blue chip backers for shows in a variety of genres that are all under ten minutes long. It debuted for $4.99 with ads and $7.99 without. It won two Emmy awards this past week for police drama #FreeRayshawn and got a shoutout by host Jimmy Kimmel in his opening monologue.
“Congrats are in order for a young Emmy upstart named named Quibi that has ten nominations, that include outstanding short form drama series and dumbest thing to ever cost $1 billion,” Kimmer said.
Founder Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman have blamed COVID-19, which invalidated the company’s on-the-go, mobile premise with much of the country stuck at home during lockdowns. Critics, however, pointed out that TikTok and Snapchat managed to grow significantly through the middle months of 2020.
In an appearance in June at SeriesFest, a Denver festival held online this year, Katzenberg described COVID-19 as a “brick wall” the company hit. He argued that the slow provided “almost a beta” period giving the start-up a chance to regroup.
Quibi has 4.5 million app downloads and 1.6 million subscribers through June., the most recent numbers.