Quibi, the highly touted short-form streaming service founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, has failed to generate much excitement among consumers or industry experts since launching in April. Now the extent of the market’s indifference is becoming clearer.
A new study found that Quibi converted just 8 percent of its initial free trials to paid subscriptions, generating a paltry 72,000 paying customers. The study by app analytics firm Sensor Tower covers those Quibi customers who signed up for a 90-day free trial within the first three days of launch, between April 6 to 8.
The figure is a disappointment for Quibi, which was expected to be a major Hollywood force thanks to the combined leadership of Katzenberg and Whitman. Disney+ converted close to 11 percent of initial free-trial users to paying customers and had more initial sign-ups, according to Sensor Tower.
Quibi disputed the study’s findings in a statement to tech site Protocol but didn’t provide alternate figures.
“To date, over 5.6 million people have downloaded the Quibi app. Our conversion from download to trial is above mobile app benchmarks, and we are seeing excellent conversion to paid subscribers,” the company told Protocol.
Quibi launched in April with major hype, having raised $1.8 billion from a host of Hollywood and Chinese investors. A slew of celebrities signed on to star in its original shows, including Liam Hemsworth, Rachel Brosnahan, Laurence Fishburne, and Christoph Waltz.
But the company has contended with rumors of internal unrest, with a number of executive departures and reports of clashes between Katzenberg and Whitman. Consumers have also been unhappy that they couldn’t play Quibi on their TVs.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former head of Walt Disney Studios, has blamed the Chinese virus pandemic for Quibi’s disappointing launch. Meanwhile, competitor Netflix has benefited from the pandemic, seeing 15.8 million news subscribers during the first quarter, more than double the 7.2 million expected.
Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman are both prominent anti-Trump figures. Katzenberg recently headlined a Joe Biden fundraiser that raked in a reported $6 million for the presumptive Democratic nominee.
The never-Trumper Whitman has called Trump a “demagogue” and backed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.