Commentary

Bite-Sized Mobile Viewing Pitches TV In A New Way

A bite-size original premium digital video company is coming your way -- in a big way. Is that what the media world is looking for? Maybe beleaguered traditional TV networks are sensing opportunity.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman and former DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg -- two veteran tech and movie/TV executives respectively -- are starting a new video company for the mobile world.

And we did say big. A collective $1 billion in investment from virtually all major media content companies, as well as tech companies and some banks speak volumes.

Here’s the pitch: In talking to CNBC, Whitman, who will be CEO, NewTV (a working title), says the effort is “for easy on-the-go mobile viewing and allows top talent in Hollywood to tell stories in an entirely new way.”

She adds: “We’re going to use the money for content and help those storytellers tell stories in a new way, which is going to be premium content delivered in bite-sized formats.”

So no hour-long dramas or half-hour comedies? Much of the internet video efforts started this way, mini-TV series on internet websites, with episodes running anywhere from eight minutes to 12 minutes long.

Whitman and Katzenberg are targeting a small piece of the hour or so a day average consumers spent watching short-form video content. “What we want to do is to grab about 20 minutes of that time,” says Katzenberg, chairman-founder of New TV, on CNBC. This could be approximately 10 minutes an episode. Whitman says the potential audience is huge: 2 billion people a day viewing mobile.

Apparently, all this would be more cost effective than typical hour-long or half-hour long TV content -- which Katzenberg says for typical scripted television comes to $100,000 a minute.

And what about the competition? Only 10% of Netflix and Hulu programming is seen on mobile devices, says Katzenberg. And even then, that content is not optimized for mobile.

The hurdle for many — the Internet has a glut of short-form video content already -- YouTube user-generated, as well as different quality levels of short-form video content. Katzenberg says what it will deliver will be “exceptional.”

Analysts says consumers already have too much long-form premium TV content from traditional networks. While this isn’t direct competition, it could have an effect.

Still, look at NewTV investors: Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal, Fox, Viacom, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, MGM and  ecommerce company Alibaba, companies heavily invested in existing long-form TV content.

If successful, all this means more legacy TV disruption for everyone. It's bite-size TV for hungry media companies on a diet.

3 comments about "Bite-Sized Mobile Viewing Pitches TV In A New Way".
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  1. Bob Gordon from The Auto Channel, August 8, 2018 at 6:49 p.m.

    size does not count....

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 8, 2018 at 7:32 p.m.

    No commercial TV network or cable channel routinely spends the kind of money that is claimed---$100,000 per minute----on most of its sitcoms or dramas except under unusual circumstances. Moreover, the underlying business plan for a TV network that partners with a producer to develop a series and give it a chance to succeed in primetime is the back end syndication profit haul, not making a mint based on the advertising in the "original" outings. I wonder what the anticipated syndicatio rerun  value of these ten-minute mobile phone dramas, comedies, reality shows, etc willl be? Not much, I suspect. While I wish NewTV the best, I doubt that the "linear TV" establishment has much to fear from it. Investing some cash in the venture is merely a way to bet on the possibility of success. If it happens---fine. If not, the learning and adapting process continues.

  3. pj bednarski from MediaPost.com, August 9, 2018 at 9:21 a.m.

    You're probably mostly right, Ed. But producers could script short program segments that could do it at scale; that banter on "NCIS" gets extended; the more or less incidental kitchen conversation on a sitcom gets fleshed out; or you reinvent a soap opera for younger viewers that also works as its own program, pieced together from the daily separate encounters. 

    This isn't exactly a new idea: Fox introduced "mobisodes" in 2004 (it did one minute segments from "24) and others revived or copied the idea. In fact Verizon's Go90 did it, with no one watching. That ended way back. . . at the end of July. 

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