Katzenberg Touts ‘Quibi’ Potential

NEWS ANALYSIS: DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP chief executive Meg Whitman March 8 at SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, unveiled details about Quibi, the streaming video service slated to launch in 2020.

The platform, which is targeting cord-cutters and younger-demo consumers comfortable streaming short-form video on mobile devices, aims to capture 20 minutes of the 70 minutes consumers spend daily watching scripted and non-scripted content, according to Katzenberg.

“Six years ago it was six minutes. A year and a half ago, it was 40 minutes. And today it’s 70 minutes,” he said, as reported by Techcrunch. “People love being able to watch great short form content on the go.”

Banking on Katzenberg’s studio clout and $1 billion in fiscal backing, Quibi reportedly has inked original content deals with director/producers Sam Raimi, Antoine Fuqua, Guillermo del Toro and Jason Blum. Content creators include Justin Timberlake, Kobe Bryant, Scooter Braun, Jennifer Lopez and Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, among others.

The platform is also producing an original program on the creation of Snapchat and founder Evan Spiegel.

Whitman, who said she follows the data, claims confidence about Quibi based on the fact “our users” are watching a lot of video on mobile.

“They’re excited about the opportunity to see something differentiated,” she said.

So was Verizon in 2015 when it launched go90, the ambitious ad-supported streaming video app for mobile devices (i.e. cell phones) that featured original content from Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and helped launch Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning animated short, Dear Basketball.

The app lasted less than three years without generating traction with the same audience Quibi is targeting. Verizon ended up posting a $1 billion loss on the venture — a dubious footnote to retiring CEO Lowell McAdam’s legacy.

Katzenberg and Whitman say Quibi will not look to rival Netflix or YouTube. Instead, it will compete for a share of the online video behemoths’ mobile video users featuring about 100 original content items weekly, including a MTV-style music news program.

“We’re using a lot of judgment, and we’ll know whether it works when it launches,” Whitman said.

Jeffrey Katzenberg Secures $1+ Billion Funding for ‘NewTV’ Mobile OTT Video Venture

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.


Hulu Tops 20 Million Subs, Inks First Deal with DreamWorks Animation

Hulu May 2 announced it has surpassed 20 million subscribers in the United States. The tally, which puts the SVOD co-owned by Disney, Fox, Comcast and Time Warner about 36 million subs behind Netflix, was disclosed at a media presentation at the newly-named Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Hulu said it has grown total engagement by more than 60%, with 78% of viewing taking place in the living room on connected TVs.

“Hulu is the complete TV experience for consumers, offering both live and on-demand programming and more consumer choice,” CEO Randy Freer said in a statement.

The service announced its first-ever license deal with DreamWorks Animation, becoming the exclusive streaming home for future DWA movies feature films, as well as library films. DWA had streamed exclusively through Netflix since 2013.

DWA was acquired by Comcast in 2016 for $3.6 billion.

Hulu will work with DreamWorks Animation Television to develop original kids and family series for exclusive streaming content based on DWA’s popular franchises and upcoming feature films. This marks the first time Hulu has partnered with a major studio in a multi-series commitment to debut original kids & family content.

The deal begins in 2019 with upcoming franchise films, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, The Boss Baby 2 and Trolls 2, in the pay-one window. It will also expand Hulu’s film offering in the coming years with a catalog of library films from the studio, including ShrekShrek 2 and Shark Tale, the first time DreamWorks Animation titles will become available to stream on Hulu.

DreamWorks Animation Television will also develop and produce the series, which will debut on Hulu beginning in 2020.


DreamWorksTV Looking Beyond Ad-Supported Business Model

With more than 3.7 million “subscribers” streaming ad-supported myriad content, including 100 original programs on its YouTube channel, DreamWorksTV has been a hit for children ages 6-12.

Now, the platform is trying to expand the revenue potential (i.e. sustainability) by launching fee-based SVOD service through Amazon Channels.

The $4.99 monthly platform includes a free seven-day trial period for Amazon Prime members, which costs $99 per-year separately.

Original programs “Schneck & Eck Crack the Case,” “Action Figures in Action,” “Secret Agent Challenge,” and “Neighborhood Super Watch.”

The platform is the brainchild of AwesomenessTV, which was founded in 2012 and acquired by Comcast in 2016 as part of the DreamWorks Animation deal for $3.8 billion.

“As we continue to grow the DreamWorksTV brand, this is an exciting step for us to explore revenue streams and brand engagement across platforms,” Brik Rawlings, head of DreamWorks TV, said in a statement.

But transforming a viewer base predicated on free access to paying subscriber could be a challenge.

YouTube – the world’s largest video streaming service – launched $10 monthly SVOD service YouTube Red in 2015. To date, it has just 1.5 million paying subs, including another 1 million trial subs.

“While we don’t release or comment on speculative numbers, we’re seeing strong engagement of the service in the four countries we’ve launched, leading us to invest in more originals series and movies,” a YouTube spokesperson told The Verge in 2016.