Quibi’s mobile-only strategy seems to be giving way to a more traditional distribution plan for subscription streaming video services.
According to Variety, Quibi is in talks with both Amazon Fire TV and Roku about building native apps for their platforms, which would help the struggling service make itself available in more living rooms. Amazon and Roku combined have more than 80 million active users.
The report said Quibi’s talks with Amazon have “recently picked back up” but discussions with Roku have yet to progress past early stages.
Quibi raised nearly $1.8 billion in funding ahead of its April 6 launch, when it introduced its lineup of short-form original content served up in 10-minute episodes. However, the mobile-focused service has likely been hamstringed in part by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequently, it hasn’t been able to meet its internal subscriber forecasts.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Quibi will sign up fewer than two million paid subscribers in its first year, which is significantly fewer than its original target of 7.4 million.
With interest in Quibi falling short of expectations, advertisers have begun to pull back. Last month, the Journal reported that Quibi advertisers including PepsiCo, Taco Bell, Anheuser-Busch and Walmart have asked that their payments be spread out over a longer time period. The low viewership totals have caused concerns that Quibi won’t be able to hit the guaranteed level of ad views it initially promised, the report said, which might mean the service will need to issue makegoods to its advertising partners.
CEO Meg Whitman reportedly told employees during a company meeting that Quibi’s slow start means the service will need to delay or postpone hiring, not backfill positions and minimize the number of contractors it brings on.
Quibi’s content is a mix of scripted, unscripted, documentaries along with daily news, sports and pop culture programs. The service costs $4.99 with ads and $7.99 without ads but it offered a 90-day free trial for customers who signed up before the end of April. T-Mobile is also giving away a free year of Quibi to many of its wireless customers.