Quibi mulls over sale as it struggles to attract subscribers

UNITED STATES • Quibi, the short-video upstart founded by Hollywood heavyweight Jeffrey Katzenberg, is working with an adviser to consider its next steps after failing to meet subscriber targets, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The options include a potential sale, raising more money or going public through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company, the newspaper said, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation.

The report is the latest sign that things are not going according to plan for the much-ballyhooed video start-up, which launched in April with the goal of entertaining people during commutes and other dull moments - like a wait at the dentist's office. With most people at home during the pandemic, the app has struggled to attract subscribers and compete with a raft of other popular streaming services.

That is despite the star power of the videos on the platform, which feature some of Hollywood's top actors and comedians.

Quibi has raised US$1.8 billion (S$2.5 billion) from investors, including many of the biggest media giants, and is run by Silicon Valley veteran Meg Whitman.

Representatives for Quibi declined to comment on the "rumour and speculation" in the Journal's report.

The app has also revamped some of its programming, focusing on what has resonated with subscribers, people familiar with the matter said in May.

Its programmes are sorted into three groups: movies told in chapters, episodic unscripted programmes and "daily essentials". Daily essentials, brief news updates daily, have been less popular, Mr Katzenberg told The New York Times earlier this year.

The service received two Creative Arts Emmys for a police drama called #FreeRayshawn.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2020, with the headline 'Quibi mulls over sale as it struggles to attract subscribers'. Print Edition | Subscribe