Mobile-first video-streaming startup Quibi ($QUIBI) is nearing its 90-day anniversary, a defining moment for the startup, as the free trial period that it offered early users comes to a close.
Starting July 6, many of Quibi’s users will have to decide whether to bucket a $4.99 subscription to Quibi or delete the app. But the startup’s lackluster performance over the past few months suggests that many users may opt for the latter.
Quibi thought it could usher in a new era of on-the-go video-binging, but the Coronavirus pandemic put a pause on those plans. As lockdown measures have swept users back into their homes, Quibi has been placed squarely in the middle of a streaming war with Netflix, Disney+ and a host of other competitors.
It doesn’t appear to have won many battles so far: At its current pace, the Wall Street Journal reported that Quibi is estimated to attract fewer than two million paying subscribers by the end of the year — missing the startup’s original target by more than 5 million subscribers. Meanwhile, Netflix ($NASDAQ:NFLX) added 2.3 million new US and Canada users just in the first quarter of 2020, boosting the streaming giant’s base of 182.8 million subscribers.
As Quibi’s advertising partners reportedly seek to renegotiate their deal terms, the startup urgently needs to attract (and retain) user attention and dollars toward a new form of content.
But, while the market appears to be there, Quibi’s engagement numbers don’t suggest a turnaround anytime soon. The company’s Twitter followers grew a tepid 3.1% to 49,700 people over the past month, a rate that still failed to fully match Netflix’s 3.8% growth in Twitter followers to 8.3 million. That’s especially significant given Netflix already has an established social media following.
Quibi's Facebook mentions peaked at 402,000 in May, still well below Netflix's mentions count even on a bad day.
Quibi has also fallen short on inspiring enough passion among users to share the company’s links on Facebook. Although Facebook shares of Quibi links spiked around the startup’s launch date in April, graphing month-on-month changes show those rates have subsided since then.
As user growth fails to measure up to Quibi’s original expectations, the company has sought to trim costs. At the beginning of the month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Quibi asked its senior executives to take a pay cut, and reportedly considered laying off 10% of its employees. Those changes can be seen on its job postings, which have dwindled to just 2 open positions, an 80% decrease. Netflix's job listings have seen a relative decline of about 30%, but the streaming giant has less to lose.
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