Jeffrey Katzenberg told a packed audience at Mipcom today that he offered the folks behind Breaking Bad $75M to produce three additional episodes of the hit series. But he had one criteria: They would have to be delivered in 30, six-minute chapters. The DreamWorks Animation chief said he would have used the content to create “the best pay-per-view scripted TV event ever” by releasing the snippets over 30 days on VOD platforms like iTunes for 99 cents per. “There’s no doubt people would buy it every day, everyone would be there waiting for the next six minutes,” he said. The self-confessed fan said he came up with the idea prior to learning how the show would end. Given the ultimate demise of its central character, it was “not a very good idea, as we now know,” Katzenberg laughed. But, he shared the story to exemplify his vision of the potential of short-form entertainment.
Katzenberg is Mipcom’s Personality of the Year and was delivering a keynote this afternoon in Cannes when he made the comments. “I have the courage of my convictions in this, I just think there is a whole new platform” for short-form entertainment to fill up “waiting time.”
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“People decry the fast pace of modern life,” Katzenberg said. “We move fast and then we wait. We rush through a store and wait to check out, we rush to the multiplex and wait in the ticket line… Until now, we twiddled our thumbs. Now our thumbs have a higher purpose than to twiddle. Now we can touch the world. Waiting as we know it is dead,” he declared. This concept of filling in the waiting space with content that’s accessible on mobile phones and tablets is something that Katzenberg has spoken of before, especially in relationship to AwesomenessTV, the YouTube content network that caters to teens and which was acquired by DWA in May.
Awesomeness has 60M unique monthly viewers, Katzenberg said today. “It gets in touch with audiences that you can’t do just with TV.” Awesomeness chief exec Brian Robbins screened a trailer for its new short-form show, Side Effects, in Cannes yesterday and Katzenberg added this afternoon that if Side Effects is successful, Robbins will “turn around and make a linear traditional TV version of that show.”
This ties into DWA’s aggressive push into television. In June, the company told analysts it will produce 1,200 TV episodes over the next five years. It also signed an agreement with Netflix to create 300 hours of programming for the streaming service and pacted to make up to 1,100 half-hours for Germany’s Super RTL. At the time, Katzenberg said the company should see $100M in revenues from TV this year. About half of that will come from titles in the Classic Media library that DWA acquired in 2012 and which includes characters like Lassie, Bullwinkle and Casper the Friendly Ghost. Further acquisitions have not been ruled out as DWA remains opportunistic. If he saw something else interesting, he’d buy it “in a minute,” Katzenberg said today. “Opportunities are endless in this new world of television which is why DreamWorks is betting so heavily on it.”