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Quibi keeps 8% of subscribers as free trials end, market researcher says

The streaming service offered 90-day free trials throughout April. As trials expire, Sensor Tower says most aren't sticking around -- a claim Quibi rejects.

Survive, a drama starring Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner, was one of Quibi's short-form shows at launch. 

Quibi, a star-studded mobile streaming service, has held onto about 8% of customers whose 90-day free trials ran out this week, mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower said Wednesday. Quibi launched April 6 with a 90-day free trial for anyone who preordered the service or signed up before May 1. The first wave of those free trials started to expire this week. 

A Quibi spokeswoman said Thursday that Sensor Tower's figures are grossly inaccurate, noting that the service has "excellent conversion to paid subscribers" and that Sensor Tower's paid subscriber estimates are "incorrect by an order of magnitude." Quibi also said its app has been downloaded more than 5.6 million times, versus Sensor Tower's latest estimate that Quibi's app has been installed about 4.5 million times since launch.

On Wednesday, Sensor Tower said a maximum of about 72,000 people who installed the app in its first three days have stayed on as paid subscribers now that their trial periods elapsed. That works out to about an 8% conversion to paid subscribers, according to Sensor Tower. The information was reported earlier by news site Protocol

Some people who signed up for Quibi as late as May 1 still have time left on their 90-day trial periods. After May 1, Quibi began offering two-week free trials, which remain available to new members. After Quibi free trials end, the service costs $5 a month with advertising and $8 a month for an ad-free tier. 

Quibi launched in the US and Canada as a service designed for watching on the go, just as swaths of North America were locking down because of the coronavirus pandemic, one of several hurdles to the service reaching its growth goals. The company's mobile-only strategy underestimated the demand to watch its big-budget programming on TVs, especially as people were stuck at home. Quibi also made its programming harder to share on social networks, stunting virality and word of mouth. 

The company aimed to have 7.4 million paying members by the end of it first year, according to The Wall Street Journal

Quibi hoped its unconventional strategy -- very expensive, star-packed programming released in 10-minute-max episodes that you can watch only on phones or mobile devices -- would find a sweet spot in a streaming landscape crowded with the likes of NetflixDisney PlusApple TV PlusPeacock and HBO Max. And of course, Quibi faces a Goliath in YouTube, the short-video specialist with more than 2 billion viewers every month.