Katzenberg and Whitman's $1 Billion Challenge to Netflix

August 7, 2018

By Max Godnick

Netflix might not have much time to chill.

NewTV, the streaming video start-up from Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, secured $1 billion in funding to produce episodic content for a mobile-first platform next year.

"If I were Netflix, I'd be pretty worried," said Julian Roman, a correspondent for MovieWeb, in an interview with Cheddar on Tuesday. "This is going to be a very legitimate contender in streaming services."

The venture has support from nearly every major Hollywood studio, including 21st Century Fox, Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Viacom. And NewTV will be led by two of the most formidable entertainment executives of all time ー Katzenberg, the former chairman of Walt Disney Studios, and Whitman, also a former Disney executive.

"You're talking about a power couple who made a fortune at Disney," Roman said.

Unlike the prestige series from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and HBO competing for Emmys, NewTV will produce 10-minute episodes of shows meant to be viewed on a smartphone or tablet.

The potential for micro-targeting on mobile, the venture's A-list slate of investors, and the pedigree of its leadership could give NewTV an advantage against established competition.

"This is a billion-dollar start-up, so everything that these guys are going to do is going to be top flight," said Roman. "It's going to be prime-quality entertainment from Hollywood's biggest producers."

Netflix, with a $13 billion content budget, has become the leader in streaming dominance. It recently broke HBO's 17-year record as the most-nominated network at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Disney's new streaming service ー scheduled to launch next year ー and the arrival of NewTV pose a serious threat to Netflix.

"When you have this kind of backing and this production team, there's a capability to go out there and give you basically everything that you want," Roman said of NewTV's potential to win across genres and formats. "I think this is going to be a major player."

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