Earlier this month, ex-Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, and former Hewlett Packard CEO, Meg Whitman announced they had closed a $1 billion round of private equity funding for their new mobile video startup, NewTV. Now, all eyes are on trained on whether or not the pair can live up to all the serious hype.
An All-Star Investor Lineup
On Tuesday August 7, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s media holding company, WndrCo announced the $1 billion round of funding had been closed. In the announcement, the company confirmed the investors included a veritable who’s-who of media giants including Disney, MGM, NBC Universal, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Viacom, Warner Media, and 21st Century Fox. On the tech side, e-commerce giant Alibaba was also involved, as well as strategic partners Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Chase, Liberty Global, and VC firm Madrone Capital.
A New Type of Streaming Platform
While the company claims to not be a direct competitor to Netflix, Hulu, or HBO, it does compete in a similar space. The difference however, is that the NewTV platform has been built specifically for the mobile viewing experience. According to NewTV CEO Whitman, “With NewTV, we’ll give consumers a user-friendly platform, built for mobile, that delivers the best stories, created by the world’s top talent, allowing users to make the most of every moment of their day.” Series episodes will be roughly 10 minutes in length and will feature both narrative and short-form interview concepts. While the service may not stand in direct competition with the HBO’s of the world, it will almost certainty stand in competition with YouTube, which already offers viewers similar short form content, albeit often at much lower quality.
A Pretty Good Bet
Along with investors, the budding studio has attracted no shortage of industry powerhouse talent. Among those said to be interested in producing for the new platform are both Disney and CBS CEO’s, Bob Iger and Les Moonves. While the undertaking is certainly a big one, the legendary Hollywood-exec Katzenberg seems up for the task. “Remember, I’m someone who got fired from Disney and eight days later started the first studio in 65 years with two of the most brilliant, successful people in the history of the entertainment business, doing something everyone said was somewhere between improbable and impossible.” The studio he’s referencing was DreamWorks SKG, founded in 1994 by Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, and sold twelve years later to NBC Universal for $3.8 billion.
Whether NewTV will re-shape the mobile media landscape the way it aims to, remains to be seen, but one thing’s for certain, it’s being given as good a chance as any.
NewTV is tentatively scheduled to launch sometime in 2019.