Katzenberg raises $1bn for smartphone ‘New TV’

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Jeffrey Katzenberg has successfully raised funding to create a ‘next-generation’ HBO or Netflix — with bite-size original programming designed for smartphones.

WndrCo, the holding company Katzenberg co-founded, announced that it has secured a $1 billion seed-funding round for ‘NewTV.’ Backers include: Disney, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, AT&T’s WarnerMedia, Lionsgate, MGM, ITV and Entertainment One. Tech investors include Chia’s Alibaba Group; strategic investors include VC firm Madrone Capital Partners, which led the round, along with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and John Malone’s Liberty Global.

“Really, this allows us to launch our vision of bringing together the best of Hollywood and Silicon Valley,” said NewTV CEO Meg Whitman. Katzenberg hired the former CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise to run the startup earlier this year.

NewTV is aiming to launch by the end of 2019, with a premium lineup of original, short-form series comprising episodes of 10 minutes each. The service will have two subscription tiers: an advertising-free plan and an “advertising-light” option, according to Whitman.

Mark Burnett, chairman of MGM’s Worldwide Television Group told Variety he’s very bullish on NewTV. “This is the right thing at the right time. People now watch most of their content on mobile — and this idea is amazing…. If anybody can make it work, it’s Jeffrey Katzenberg.”
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