August 7, 2018
Former DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is getting into mobile over-the-top video, and he’s rounded up major financial support from every contact in his Rolodex.
The executive’s WndrCo holding company Aug. 7 announced it has raised $1 billion in initial funding for “NewTV,” an app that aims to launch in 2019 to become the first entertainment platform for “easy, on-the-go mobile viewing” of original content.
In short, NewTV wants to go where Verizon’s short-lived Go90 mobile app couldn’t: OTT video targeting a global smartphone subscriber base estimated to exceed 3 billion, according to Forrester Research.
Investors include 21st Century Fox, Disney, Entertainment One, ITV, Lionsgate, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, and Warner Media. Other investors include China’s multinational e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI and technology conglomerate Alibaba and Wall Street heavyweights The Goldman Sachs Group, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Liberty Global, and Madrone Capital.
“It is exciting to see Hollywood embracing this new technology distribution platform built for the way we watch today,” Katzenberg, chairman and founder of NewTV, said in a statement. “NewTV will access the best talent and intellectual property for this next era in entertainment. We are already seeing tremendous interest from Hollywood’s top talent.”
Overseeing the platform is Meg Whitman, longtime tech executive and former California GOP governor candidate.
“More so than ever, people want easy access to the highest quality entertainment that fits perfectly into their busy, on-the-go lifestyles,” said 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.”
Katzenberg is quick to say NewTV won’t compete against Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu – OTT video pioneers that largely control the SVOD ecosystem spending tens of billions of dollars on original TV shows between them. There will be no live TV.
Content will focus on original unscripted and scripted dramas, sitcoms, documentaries and reality in short form targeting consumers addicted to their phones.
“It’s a completely different use case,” Katzenberg told Variety.
That’s what former Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said when the telecom bowed Go90 in 2015, an ambitious app targeting Verizon’s younger smartphone users with ad-supported content.
The app at its peak reportedly generated 17 million unique viewers per month featuring a cross-country reality competition, “The Runner,” produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning animated short, “Dear Basketball,” among other content.
McAdam retired from Verizon Aug. 1, the day after Go90 officially shut down, generating $1 billion in fiscal write-offs.