Jeffrey Katzenberg Blames Quibi’s Rough Start On The Coronavirus

Remember Quibi? Launched just over a month ago, it was supposed to revolutionize streaming by offering “quick bite” content for those on the go, with only tiny increments of time to kill. Trouble is, no one right now is on the go, and everyone has too much time to kill. And despite having what its execs claimed was a promising start, a few weeks later they’re singing a much different tune. In short, Quibi has had a rough first month, and its founder, Jeffrey Katzenberg, blames one target: the pandemic.

“I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus,” Mr. Katzenberg told The New York Times in a new interview. “Everything. But we own it.”

The NYT paints a grim portrait of Quibi’s first month. After only a week Quibi — whose 10-minute shows (or whatever you want to call them) can only be viewed on a phone, and whose images cannot be screengrabbed — fell out of the Top 50 most downloaded apps. As of this writing, it ranks 125th. Despite offering a 90-day free trial, Sensor Tower says it’s only been downloaded 2.9 million times, though Quibi itself says it’s more like 3.5 million. And, as per NYT, of those who have downloaded it, a mere 1.3 million are active users.

Katzenberg says that’s “not close to what we wanted,” and he admits the timing wound up being rather a bit off. “My hope, my belief was that there would still be many in-between moments while sheltering in place,” Mr. Katzenberg said. “There are still those moments, but it’s not the same. It’s out of sync.”

That’s prompted some changes, chief among them addressing some users’ complaints that they can’t watch Quibi on TVs. Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman are now partially back-pedaling on that, allowing Quibi movies like Most Dangerous Game and Chrissy’s Court to be available that way. On top of that, it will be easier to share content on social media, presumably meaning screengrabs will soon be possible.

Some more promising news: Eighty percent of viewers complete the episode they’re watching, though there’s no word if they finish the complete show/season/movie. Katzenberg also feels optimistic that people will start using once life returns to normal. Whenever that is.

(Via The New York Times)