August 7, 2018 / 1:43 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Katzenberg's venture raises $1 bln for mobile video service

(Adds details on NewTv, background on competition)

Aug 7 (Reuters) - WndrCo, a startup co-founded by former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, said on Tuesday it raised $1 billion from major Hollywood studios and Chinese tech giant Alibaba for its venture that will produce short-form shows for mobile phones.

The media platform, with a working title of “NewTV”, will be helmed by Meg Whitman, former chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard, while Katzenberg will be the chairman.

NewTV plans to make Hollywood-style, short episodic videos for on-the-go viewing, taking advantage of a surge in mobile video viewership and pitting itself against services ranging from Netflix to AT&T’s Watch TV.

The company will staff up and manage a pipeline of episodic content optimized for mobile viewing — series with installments in the 15-minute range, at budgets of about $5 million a season, Hollywood website Deadline.com here reported, citing an interview with Katzenberg and Whitman.

The service will be a two-tiered subscription model similar to that of Hulu but pricing is yet to be determined, the website reported.

“With NewTV, we’ll give consumers a user-friendly platform, built for mobile, that delivers the best stories, created by the world’s top talent, allowing users to make the most of every moment of their day,” said Whitman.

The capital raise includes investments by major Hollywood studios such as 21st Century Fox, Disney and Viacom.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Madrone Capital have also invested in the company.

“It is exciting to see Hollywood embracing this new technology distribution platform built for the way we watch today,” Katzenberg said.

Several reports said last year NewTV was trying to raise about $2 billion. (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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