When HBO was launched, it changed the television industry forever by offering high-quality TV shows the likes of which the public had never seen before. Later on, Netflix revolutionized the industry by taking full advantage of Internet video streaming technology. And now, a new company is planning to launch a service that it feels will bring in the third major change in television entertainment consumption. Dubbed NewTV, the service aims to deliver bite-sized original shows to mobile consumers.
The NewTV service
The concept of NewTV impressed so many investors that founder Jeffrey Katzenberg was able to raise US$1 billion in funding for a venture that is being run by less than 10 employees. Even the name NewTV is just a placeholder. The backers of the service include some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, like Sony Pictures, Disney, Viacom, 21st Century Fox, WarnerMedia, and so on.
CEO of NewTV Meg Whitman believes that the service combines the best of Hollywood with the best of Silicon Valley, and will offer smartphone users truly world-class entertainment content specifically designed for them.
“Even though there was all the television in the world [in the 1990s], it was all free, all available, many — tens of millions — of people went to HBO because what they offered was exceptional. We believe what you have in short-form today, we are delivering in a new form. We believe the delta, the exceptionalness, will be as great,” Katzenberg said in an interview with CNBC.
The service is planning to launch in 2019 with multiple series, each of them comprised of 10-minute episodes. NewTV will offer two subscription plans to customers — an advertising-free option and a second advertising-light plan in the vein of the Hulu service.
Will it succeed?
As to the question of the possibility of success, Mark Burnett, chairman of MGM Worldwide Television Group, is pretty upbeat about the new startup and only sees tremendous potential in it. “This is the right thing at the right time. People now watch most of their content on mobile — and this idea is amazing. If anybody can make it work, it’s Jeffrey Katzenberg,” he is quoted by Variety.
While the mobile-focused content plan of NewTV is pretty interesting, it might face tough competition from more established online streaming services. A case in point is Netflix, which is touted to be developing 15-minute TV shows to cater to its smartphone consumers.
However, Katzenberg believes that since NewTV is being built completely from the ground up to focus on short-form content, it will have a significant advantage over Netflix when it comes to user experience and enjoyment. Plus, less than 10 percent of Netflix’s views come from mobile, which leaves NewTV with a very large market to tap into.
NewTV might also benefit from better advertising revenues, since its bite-sized programming almost guarantees increased viewership for the shows. After all, people rarely watch hour-long content on their mobiles. As such, the 10-minute episodes from NewTV ensure that users will likely watch the content in full, including the few ads that the service inserts in between.
NewTV plans on announcing its official name within the next few months, together with signing up additional employees and senior executives. Whitman believes their staff will grow up to 300 employees in the next three years.