NewTV, a Likely Disruptor of Episode Length

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Jeffrey Katzenberg, former CEO of DreamWorks Animation, and Meg Whitman, former CEO of Hewlett Packard are building a new service, temporary called NewTV. The startup will bridge Silicon Valley's tech savvy with Hollywood's creative genius to create bite-sized video content of 10 minutes or less, Whitman says. In other words: a mobile-specific streaming platform, stocked with big-budget shows from top-flight talent. Katzenberg and Whitman based their hypothesis on the surge in video viewed on smartphones. There is no doubt that this is happening: On average, the number of minutes viewed per day on mobile devices by consumers globally has risen from about 14 minutes in 2015 to a projected 35 minutes in 2018. NewTV is expected to launch by Christmas 2019 and will fill the gap between short-form originals produced for services like YouTube, Facebook, or Snapchat and the high-end scripted TV shows on platforms such as Netflix, Prime Video, or HBO. The venture announced recently that it raised $1 billion in funding from major Hollywood entertainment companies, including Disney, Lionsgate, MGM, Sony Pictures, 21st Century Fox, Viacom, and Warner Media.

(Inspired by articles on Variety, and USA TODAY.)

A New Market for Short Forms

Plenty of streaming platforms are available on mobile devices. The list of free and paid services is long: YouTube, HBO, Hulu, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram... just to name a few. Netflix has been experimenting with short-form content for a while. A subscription-based streaming service for ten-minute episodes might therefore not have a real first-mover advantage. However, Katzenberg is a proven brand-maker and often this is what it takes to set a trend and change consumer behavior. The well-marketed novelty will most likely be perceived as a cool must-have and attract customers. Competitors will then catch up and a whole new market for premium short-form content will emerge. As the new demand is then distributed across market participants, NewTV will keep the excitement of the original and engage a decent subscriber base. As a result, streaming consumers will increasingly get used to short forms as shorter episode length will become the norm. This, in turn, will open doors for new concepts to arise.

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Content Might Follow

A concept that might arise from shorter episodes is choose-your-own-adventure series. Netflix has already been working on such interactive content. However, the company has not yet managed to turn it into a recognized category of series and movies. In my opinion, pushing shorter episode length is a crucial first step in establishing the choose-your-own-adventure genre. Therefore, the concept might be waiting for a company like NewTV to change the standard and put short forms out there as something cool. For more information about why I believe that short forms are key for choose-your-own-adventure content, read my article: Are multiple endings the next dimension in TV?

More of a Micro-Level Disruption

While short forms will certainly have their impact and change the way we consume entertainment, it is important to note that, at the end of the day, we are talking about a micro-level disruption here. NewTV will be one out of a couple hundred platforms, all of which compete for streaming customers' attention. On the macro level, streaming aggregators are changing the game. These startups are working on combining all your favorite streaming services in one place for a single, more affordable subscription fee. For more information, have a look at my article: The Rise of Streaming Aggregators

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