WndrCo, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s media incubator, clearly has big plans for NewTV.
If the working name wasn’t enough of a sign (there’s TV, and there’s New TV), the company made a major splash in the technology and media worlds this week when it announced that Meg Whitman would become NewTV’s CEO in March.
Whitman, who was most recently CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and who for a decade served as the CEO of eBay, is not someone you hire to run a niche media company. While Whitman has spent the last few decades in the technology sector, she previously served as an executive at Procter & Gamble and The Walt Disney Company.
What makes the move all the more interesting is that not much is known about NewTV. We know that Katzenberg has sought to raise around $2 billion to launch the venture, reportedly built around high-quality programming meant to rival content produced by Hollywood and traditional media companies.
The catch, of course, is that this content will be mobile-first, shorter in length and geared toward younger audiences. The hope is for high-profile talent to be involved with the programming as well.
Still, where that content will live, who will produce it and whether it is supported by advertising, subscriptions or some combination thereof remains a mystery.
Technology will also play a role, with Katzenberg touting Whitman’s “leadership, operational expertise, and deep understanding of technology and consumer behavior” in announcing her hire.
The market has no shortage of short-form video content, and companies like YouTube, Verizon and AT&T are all pouring money into developing video franchises for millennials and other young consumers. Where NewTV fits in that ecosystem remains unclear.
Still, Whitman isn’t showing any sign of concern, and she and Katzenberg clearly believe they have some tricks up their sleeves.
“NewTV is one of the most disruptive and timely ideas I’ve come across during my career,” she said in a statement about her hire. “I share Jeffrey’s vision that top-quality programming tailored to our mobile lifestyles is the next big touchpoint in entertainment.”
What that disruption will look like will have to wait for a later time.