Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg has secured close to $1 billion in backing for WndrCo’s mobile video startup NewTV, winning backing from major Hollywood players.
Several of the major studios including Disney, 21st Century Fox and Warner Bros, have collectively invested around $200 million in the venture, CNN reported. The venture also is attracting investment from Sony Pictures, as well as beyond the entertainment industry, say those familiar with the private discussions.
Those briefed on Katzenberg’s new venture describe it as a Netflix service for mobile devices — a subscription service that will deliver compelling content across a variety of content verticals including news, sports and entertainment.
Katzenberg has spent months pitching his vision of delivering high-end episodic content from top directors, producers and creators to mobile devices. Earlier reports from Bloomberg suggest each series would cost $5 million-$6 million per hour, with individual episodes of about 15 minutes in length.
“He’s a machine,” said one person familiar with Kazenberg’s plans. “I don’t think there’s an agent or studio head he hasn’t talked to.”
A spokesperson for Katzenberg declined comment.
Some people say Katzenberg is looking for more than a financial commitment from the established Hollywood players; he’s asking the studios to develop original, short-form programming for the forthcoming service.
It is unclear how successfully NewTV will compete with the growing array of services that deliver entertainment programming to mobile phones like AT&T’s Watch TV, which offers a bundle of 30 television channels free to millions of its subscribers, or Snapchat, which has begun investing in original scripted and reality programming like the docuseries Endless Summer.
Contracts are circulating, with Katzenberg hoping to complete this phase shortly. Meanwhile, NewTV has begun aggressively recruiting production, distribution and executives, as well as executives with ties to the telecommunications industry.
NewTV interviewed one telecommunications industry veteran in hopes that he could strike a carriage agreement with a mobile carrier like Verizon or T-Mobile. It is unclear whether he took the job.
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