Newly launched mobile streaming service Quibi is killing one of its more highly anticipated series — a show depicting Snapchat’s origin story, focused on founder Evan Spiegel. The news was exclusively reported by Variety on Tuesday, which did not detail the source of its news.
Plans for the Snapchat show were first announced at SXSW in 2019, when Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman took the stage to talk about their plans for the new streaming service and its unique technology for mobile viewing.
The Snapchat series was to be based on the screenplay “Frat Boy Genius” by Elissa Karasik, which had depicted Spiegel as a hard-partying Stanford student, according to a review of the much-hyped script by Vulture.
“It is the story of how [Spiegel] built and created Snapchat, which is one of the great social platforms of our time,” touted Katzenberg, at the event. “And we want to tell a story that is as compelling and interesting about the creation of Snapchat and Evan’s story as ‘[The] Social Network’ was for Facebook,” he added.
The show was meant to appeal to Quibi’s target audience of young, on-the-go millennials and Gen Z users who were looking to watch short-form videos while out and about — for example, while riding the subway, waiting for an appointment, standing in line and more.
However, Quibi launched its service at a time when its users are no longer running around town. These days, everyone is sheltering in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And real-world activities are canceled, so there’s nothing much to do but go for walks or stream Netflix.
Quibi’s launch-day downloads had indicated a lack of pent-up demand for the mobile service, topping only around 300,000 after the first day.
However, in an interview with CNBC, Quibi CEO Meg Whitman has since confirmed the app’s first-week downloads have now reached 1.7 million. But these installs were boosted by a high-profile partnership between Quibi and T-Mobile, which is offering the service for free for a year to its unlimited wireless customers on family plans.
Whitman also said Quibi was accelerating its plans to add support for casting features that would allow Quibi content to play on televisions.
The company had earlier confirmed at CES in January that AirPlay and Chromecast were on its roadmap, but the COVID-19 pandemic has changed Quibi’s plans. People today are watching movies and TV at home on their big TV screens, and may not be looking for “quick bites” of video they can binge in a few minutes’ time.
Quibi and Snapchat have been asked for comment. We’ll update if any are provided.