Big media and technology companies bankroll a $1 billion small-screen TV venture

August 8, 2018

Disney, Alibaba and NBCUniversal are participating in a $1 billion financing round for a new video streaming service—led by ex-Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman and ex-Walt Disney Studios Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg; and designed specifically for mobile viewing, CNBC reported on August 6.

The product, dubbed NewTV for now, will “access the best talent and intellectual property for this next era in entertainment,” Katzenberg, who will be chairman and founder of the initiative, said in a statement.

Katzenberg and his investors—which also include Fox, Viacom, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, and MGM— are banking on an untapped audience that craves high-quality content designed for smartphones and tablets.

Variety revealed this week that NewTV is aiming to launch by the end of 2019, with a premium lineup of original, short-form series comprising episodes of 10 minutes each. The service will have two subscription tiers: an advertising-free plan and an “advertising-light” option (a la Hulu), according to Whitman. Each series will cost between $5 million  and $6 million per hour to produce.

“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,” said Whitman, NewTV’s CEO, in a formal company statement on August 7.

NewTV’s platform is owned by Katzenberg’s holding company WndrCo.

More than half of all video viewing is now happening on mobile, and most of those views come from phones, not tablets, according to a study by : That’s video platform provider Ooyala.

Research contact: howard@wavekilo.com

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