Quibi says report that it lost 92% of early subscribers is ‘incorrect by an order of magnitude’

Quibi, the video startup founded by Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, said a report that it lost 92% of paying subscribers after their free trials expired is “incorrect by an order of magnitude.”

The company said 5.6 million people downloaded the Quibi app and that it is “seeing excellent conversion to paid subscribers,” without saying how many. A report from analytics firm Sensor Tower Inc. estimates that only 72,000 of people who signed up for a 90-day free trial of Quibi in the first three days after it launched stuck with the app.

It’s not uncommon for only a small percentage of free-trial users to turn into paying subscribers. Even Disney+, whose subscriber rolls have soared in recent months, lost 89% of its free-trial users, according to Sensor Tower.

But Walt Disney Co. has been able to fuel growth with a well-known brand, a rapid international expansion, and compelling new content, such as this month’s release of “Hamilton.” Quibi, meanwhile, has faded in app-store rankings and struggled to generate buzz.

The company set high expectations when it launched earlier this year. In presentations to investors, Katzenberg said in a base case, it would attract 20 million subscribers in five years. Quibi would have to be outpacing its streaming competitors — a crowded field — to reach that figure.

The company has blamed a cool reception to the app on the coronavirus lockdown, because Quibi was made to be used during commutes. However, other apps, like TikTok, have become more popular during quarantines. To adapt to at-home viewing, Quibi said shortly after it launched that it would give users the ability to watch its mobile-only shows on their televisions.

The Sensor Tower data is only an estimate, and isn’t as accurate as internal company figures. The report said Quibi has been downloaded an estimated 4.5 million times since its April launch. The free trial for users who signed up for Quibi on the first day expired July 6.

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