Since leaving Dreamworks Animation after that company’s sale to Comcast last year, Jeffrey Katzenberg has been a busy man. The film, TV, and digital media executive has been hard at work launching WndrCo, a holding company he announced in January 2017. Among other ventures, WndrCo will be the framework through which Katzenberg hopes to develop what he’s calling “New TV,” and as he looks for a distribution partner for that venture, he is hoping to find a tech company willing to commit $2 billion, according to a cover story published by Variety.
Details about New TV have trickled out in the months since the launch of WndrCo. Katzenberg’s content play will eat up some of the $600 million in funding the executive used to boot up his new holding company, and it will look to appeal to younger generations of viewers that are increasingly moving away from TV. To do that, New TV’s shows will consist of six- to ten-minute episodes, which will have budgets that will far exceed the average YouTube production but will fall short of those commanded by top-tier HBO and Netflix programs. The Variety report estimates that New TV’s per-episode price tag could range as high as $125,000.
Where will Katzenberg get the money he needs to finance his expensive New TV programming? That’s where the distribution partners come in. Variety’s report notes that Katzenberg has been chatting with top execs at companies like Apple, YouTube, and Verizon. His goal is to secure a $2 billion deal that would get him a place to put his new shows and jumpstart the production of those programs. “Is this a gigantic undertaking? The answer is yes,” Katzenberg told Variety. “Is it bigger than DreamWorks? I hope so.”
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Depending on the partner Kaztenberg eventually finds, New TV could adapt to fit one of several different models. It could end up as a subscription-based service, or could be offered up for free. Back when he was still at DreamWorks, Katzenberg want to launch a subscription service for the digital network AwesomenessTV, though that effort fizzled out after the Comcast deal.
Launching New TV certainly won’t be easy, but Katzenberg is confident that, with the right partner, he can pull it off. “I’m of the mind to take the path of least resistance,” he told Variety. “This idea is hard to do, and recognizing what a huge undertaking it is, I’m not intimidated by doing this alone. But it would be for sure a harder, longer road to travel.”