Mobile video startup NewTV closes on $1 billion

Mobile video startup NewTV has closed on a billion in new funding in round led by Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg, the company has confirmed.

The initial raise included investments by all of the major Hollywood studios, a number of independent studios, major technology companies, and strategic partners.

The Hollywood studio investors include 21st Century Fox, Disney, Entertainment One, ITV, Lionsgate, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, and Warner Media. The technology company investors include Alibaba. The strategic partner investors include The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Liberty Global, and Madrone Capital, who led the round.

In addition, the round was led by strategic partners The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Liberty Global, and VC firm Madrone Capital.

WndrCo, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s tech and media holding company, officially announced the round’s close on Tuesday, following last month’s report from CNN which had first leaked the news of the billion-dollar investment.

“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, in a statement. “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.”

NewTV had not shared much detail about its ambitions ahead of this fundraise, beyond its bigger goal of reinventing TV for the mobile era. Specifically, it’s interested in taking the sort of quality programming you’d find on a service like Netflix, broken up into smaller, bite-sized videos of 10 minutes or less – designed specifically for mobile viewing.

In an interview with Variety, the company has now disclosed that NewTV will launch later in 2019 with a premium lineup of original, short-form series where each episode is 10 minutes long. The service will include both an ad-supported tier and an commercial-free plan, similar to Hulu.

Its original content will include both scripted and unscripted shows, like sitcoms, dramas, reality shows, and documentaries, but not live TV like you’d find on Sling TV or YouTube TV, for example. NewTV will partner with producers to license their programming, but it won’t own or produce shows itself.

Katzenberg also positioned NewTV – which the company says is only the “working title” for now – as something that’s not a direct competitor with Netflix, Hulu, or HBO, but is rather “a different use case.”

As he told Variety, the difference isn’t just the length of the content, but that the NewTV platform itself will be built from scratch for the mobile viewing experience.

In terms of distribution, NewTV will look to telco partnerships.

WndrCo has raised $750 million prior to this round, much of which had also been invested in NewTV. The company has additionally backed other tech and media startups, including  Mixcloud, Axios, Node, Flowspace, Whistle Sports, and TYT Network.

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