Quibi Founder Jeffrey Katzenberg Blames Chinese Virus for His App’s Failed Launch

Katzenberg
Michael Buckner/Getty Images for CinemaCon

Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former head of Walt Disney Studios and founder of mobile-only entertainment app Quibi, has blamed the Chinese virus pandemic for the app’s failed launch. The company raised $1.8 billion from Hollywood and Chinese investors, but its downloads languish far below the top 100 free iPhone apps.

The New York Times reports that Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former Walt Disney Studios head and founder of the new mobile-only video streaming app Quibi, is blaming the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic for the app’s failure to take off.

The NYT reports that despite including content starring Jennifer Lopez, LeBron James, Idris Elba, Steven Spielberg, and Chriss Teigen, downloads of Quibi have been pretty slow.

The app is designed to provide short-form media content to those that are too busy to sit down and stream TV shows or movies, but launched as a near worldwide lockdown went into effect forcing people to stay home and watch TV.

“I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus,” Katzenberg said in a video interview. “Everything. But we own it.” The app went live on April 6 and just one week later, Quibi fell out of the list of the 50 most downloaded free iPhone apps in the United States. It is now ranked number 125 behind the game Knock’em All and the language learning app Duolingo.

Despite having a 90-day free trial, Quibi has still only been install by 2.9 million customers according to analytics firm Sensor Tower. Quibi claims the figure is closer to 3.5 million but of those that have installed the app, only 1.3 million are active users.

Katzenberg expressed his disappointment telling the NYT: “Is it the avalanche of people that we wanted and were going for out of launch? The answer is no. It’s not up to what we wanted. It’s not close to what we wanted.”

Katzenberg is the former head of Walt Disney Studios and founder of DreamWorks SKG, he has navigated the entertainment industry extremely well, but it seems that so far Quibi has not been a positive move. When asked if he regrets launching Quibi when he did, he replied: “If we knew on March 1, which is when we had to make the call, what we know today, you would say that is not a good idea. The answer is, it’s regrettable. But we are making enough gold out of hay here that I don’t regret it.”

Katzenberg alongside the former Hewlett-Packard chief Meg Whitman raised almost $1.8 billion from Hollywood studios and the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to fund Quibi. The app was pitched as modern way of viewing content, allowing users to view stories during slow moments while they commuted or waited in line.

“My hope, my belief was that there would still be many in-between moments while sheltering in place,” Katzenberg said. “There are still those moments, but it’s not the same. It’s out of sync.”

Read the full report in the New York Times here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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