Quibi launched on April 5, 2020, in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic. That’s right, a phone-only (at least initially) platform for commuters and office workers launched when most of their target audience wasn’t commuting and their offices were shuttered. Quibi offered a three-month free introductory trial. Quibi co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg spun this as both a way to meet pandemic “financial challenges” and a way to hook new users, saying “If they love it and they think it’s worthwhile, they’ll end up subscribing to it” (via Deadline).
Katzenberg blamed the pandemic and the lack of “in-between” moments for Quibi’s failure (via The New York Times). Launching an app for bored commuters during a pandemic was definitely a mistake. However, the timing of the launch was not the only Quibi misstep.