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Quibi’s Struggles Compounded by ‘Unprecedented’ Times, CEO Meg Whitman Says

New streaming app stopped advertising or releasing new shows last week due to civil unrest stemming from the killing of George Floyd

Quibi’s early struggles have been compounded by the company’s decision to not release new shows or advertise its app last week, CEO Meg Whitman told the Los Angeles Times on Friday.

Quibi made the call, according to Whitman, as the U.S. continues to grapple with the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which has sparked nationwide protests in recent weeks. The move was also spurred on by the continued fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Times.

“These are truly pivotal and unprecedented times,” Whitman said. “We needed to take the time to step back, be a part of this discussion.”

A number of companies have said they’ll be donating money to racial justice causes, like Apple did earlier this week. Others have committed to being more proactive in hiring black candidates.

The downtime for Quibi is one reason the app has fallen out of the top 200 free apps ranked by Apple’s App Store, according to Whitman. On top of that, Whitman stressed the app, which offers mobile-only original content, has only been available for two months. “Category creation takes time and we knew it would take time” to win over subscribers, Whitman added.

Quibi told the Times it has been downloaded 4.6 million since early April, although firms like Sensor Tower have estimated the download figure is closer to 4 million overall. The app has $1.75 billion in funding behind it, as well as a laundry list of stars signed on to make content, but winning viewers over has been a challenge. It’s unclear how many people who downloaded Quibi will pay to use the app when their 90-day free trial expires; Quibi costs $4.99 per month for ad-supported streaming and $7.99 per month for ad-free.

TheWrap recently spoke with a number of early Quibi users and found the app falls short in three key areas: content, technical features and marketing. Quibi’s critics also took jabs at the company last month, after founder Jeffrey KatzenbergĀ told The New York Times that “everything” about the app’s underwhelming launch stems from the coronavirus pandemic. Both Katzenberg and Quibi were then widely criticized on Twitter.

A few changes are in the works to boost engagement, Whitman told the Times. For example, Quibi executives noticed its title for its daily news shows, “Daily Essentials,” confused its users, so the company will be marketing those shows individually moving forward. Whitman also said the company will be looking to add more black, latino and LGBTQ creators to its fold.