TV Startup Targeting Mobile Viewers Raises $1 Billion

WndrCo, the startup founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg, former chairman of Walt Disney Studios and co-founder of DreamWorks Animation, announced yesterday that it has secured $1 billion in seed money to launch a TV company that will cater to mobile viewers.

The NewTV venture “brings together the best of Silicon Valley and Hollywood to create the first entertainment platform built for easy, on-the-go mobile viewing, allowing today’s leading studios and creative talent to tell original stories in an entirely new way,” the company said in a press release.

“More so than ever, people want easy access to the highest quality entertainment that fits perfectly into their busy, on-the-go lifestyles,” said Meg Whitman, CEO of NewTV. “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.”

Whitman told Variety that the West Hollywood-based company — whose name is still a working title — is planning to launch its service by the end of 2019 with advertising-free and “advertising light" subscription options.

Investors on the content side include 21st Century Fox, Disney, Entertainment One, ITV, Lionsgate, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, and Warner Media. China-based online commerce giant Alibaba is also an investor along with strategic partners Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and other financial entities.

“It is exciting to see Hollywood embracing this new technology distribution platform built for the way we watch today,” said Katzenberg, chairman of NewTV and managing partner of WndrCo. “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.”

When Katzenberg unveiled his plan last October he said he was seeking $2 billion in seed money. At the time, Katzenberg told the The New York Times content would be much shorter than a typical of 30- or 60-minute TV episode loaded with commercials. Whitman told Variety episodes will run 10 minutes.

Will a mere $1 billion be enough to get NewTV off the ground? We’ll have to wait and see.