KoldCast TV is getting into the original content game and building itself a studio. The Irvine, CA-based company announced a handful of updates today, the most significant being the creation of a new LA-based digital studio dubbed KoldCast Studios. Heading up the new original content division will be former Warner Bros. based HDFilms VP, Marti Resteghini who joins the company as VP network programming and acquisitions.
The hire is a significant step for KoldCast. Before this, the company operated outside the Hollywood studio system, working mostly with independent creators in a distribution and marketing capacity. They made a name for themselves and built loyalty amongst web series creators looking for a home for their series, offering a hands on partnership that included custom ad units, cross promotion and PR support. Shows like After Judgment, The Super Man, The Crew, Pink, OzGirl and The Midwest Teen Sex Show make up the core of the more than 50 web series on the network.
Still, to many who follow the ever-changing web television scene, KoldCast has remained somewhat of an enigma. The deals signed with content creators were seldom exclusive, meaning the series themselves were available all over the web including heavier trafficked video sites like blip.tv and YouTube. Now however, the company is going to be investing in higher-end content made for distribution on its own network.
Resteghini, who spent time at Warner Bros. before HDFilms, brings a formidable online and traditional TV development background, having overseen the development of ABC’s new drama, V, and upcoming Warner Bros. animated web series, Chadam. For the first few projects, we’re told the new studio will be focusing on dramatic series, with at least one project to go into production by the end of the year.
When asked about the budgets of the new original series, KoldCast TV’s Founder and CEO David S. Samuels declined to specify, but said that they are looking to produce “quality programming that significantly raises the bar well above current Web TV standards.”
But making the move from licensing and promoting completed series to funding and developing shows from scratch is no easy task. Other well-funded digital studios like 60Frames and maniaTV were unable to gain enough traction to turn themselves into profitable operations. Samuels remains stedfast in his belief in the future of web television, however. “I do believe that this is laregly a normal process when you have a major new industry that has developed,” said Samuels in a phone interview.
Also announced was the relaunch of the KoldCast site itself, which is said to have overhauled every line of code from the past iteration. We’re told this is phase one of a multi-phase rollout, with the next stage coming in mid September. So far, the most noticeable updates are a new video player and easier navigation. Coming in the next phase are full Open Social and Facebook integration and what they calling the ShowShops™ which promises in-player merchandise sales tools and checkout.
The idea of point-of-viewing transactions, even when the episodes are embedded on sites like this one, could prove appealing to web series creators and even ad partners looking to lock-in impulse purchases. Samuels said they are taking the technology on a “road show” this September to introduce the tools to brands and their agencies.
As Samuels points out, he’s not betting the company’s success solely on the shows it develops. “To consumers, we’re an entertainment company, but we’re also a technology company,” said Samuels. A veteran tech entrepreneur and investor, he understands the long term value of building a strong technology platform. This is something the EQAL team has more recently come to embrace with the announcement of their Umbrella product earlier this month.