It’s the next small thing in entertainment. A tech startup is planning to make shows specifically for cellphones. The idea of going small is coming from two of the biggest names in Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Phil Lavelle reports.
Hollywood’s a place that thrives on dreams, and one of its biggest executives is about to get his next one up and running.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, the co-founder of DreamWorks, is setting up a new streaming service with its eye on a unique market.
His startup, ‘NewTV,’ is being created with one specific goal: To make short films and programs solely for streaming on cellphone screens. He’s hoping to revolutionize the market in the way that Amazon and Netflix did with TV streaming.
The industry is taking notice for a number of reasons. For starters, Katzenberg has partnered with Meg Whitman, the billionaire former boss of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and eBay, regarded as one the tech world’s biggest players. Secondly, the pair have managed to secure around one billion dollars in funding with major backers from all over the world including Disney, Fox, Sony, Viacom, Lionsgate, NBC Universal, China’s Alibaba and the UK’s ITV network.
Henry Meier from the Los Angeles Business Journal has written extensively about the startup, and he’s convinced their names will give this company a serious chance of success, telling CGTN, “They have an incredible track record in the entertainment industry which has allowed them to raise money. They just have a billion dollars in backing right now, which is an enormous amount for an unproven concept really.”
Katzenberg himself is quick to point out that NewTV will not be a direct competitor to the increasingly competitive TV streaming space. There, established players like Netflix and Amazon are launching shows with eye-watering budgets, but increasingly in competition with brands like Apple, Hulu, HBO and Showtime, among others.
He tells CGTN: “Short form but very high quality, is the thing that we have not yet delivered to people around the world and I’m confident that when we do, when we do that on a mobile platform, which is how people are watching short form, you want to watch it on your phone. It’s not competitive with television, it really is a different form of consumption, the fact that it seems such a clear path and clear opportunity is why the fundraising part of this is actually not the hardest, believe it or not.”
But cellphones are not new. Nor are smartphones, which have been able to stream video for around a decade already. Fast LTE connections have made consumption on-the-go a real possibility for around five years, so the question here is why has this not been done before. It’s stumped industry insider and tech reporter for The Information website, Matt Pressberg:
“I think there’s a lot of conventional wisdom among TV and film executives where they’ve done it a certain way for so long. They’ve come up in their career doing it one way, and they’re almost a prisoner to certain formats. You’re right, it is a little surprising that it’s taken this long to create cellphone native content, even though the younger generation, the youngest demographic has been watching TV on their phones primarily for the last three or four years.”
The launch date of NewTV is still to be announced. Hollywood will be watching closely.