Katzenberg: NewTV will be as transformative as HBO

Key Points
  • The new streaming subscription service will focus on premium short-form content.
  • Disney, Comcast and Alibaba and other media giants have already invested in the venture.
  • The platform is expected to launch by Christmas of 2019.
Jeff Katzenberg and Meg Whitman on new streaming TV venture

NewTV, a subscription streaming service for premium short-form content launching by Christmas of 2019, will disrupt Hollywood the way HBO did in the 1990s, founder Jeffrey Katzenberg said.

Although people are used to getting short-form content on their mobile devices for free, the quality of NewTV's content will convince customers to subscribe, according to Katzenberg, who is a former chairman of Disney Studios.

"Even though there was all the television in the world [in the 1990s], it was all free, all available, many – tens of millions – of people went to HBO, because what they did offer was exceptional," he told CNBC's Julia Boortsin. "We believe what you have in short-form today, we are delivering in new form. We believe the delta, the exceptionalness, will be as great."

The new venture will be run by Katzenberg, who will lead content, and former Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, who will handle business and technology. NewTV has some powerful backing, with media giants including Comcast's NBCUniversal, Disney and Alibaba teaming up to invest $1 billion in the company.

Alibaba will also be collaborating on the technological side of the business, Whitman said, which will be dependent on the spread of 5G.

"Think about what 5G will be able to do in terms of display, sound, instant discovery," Whitman said. "We think that's another element of the wind at our back in this new venture."

A major focus of NewTV will be concentrating both the platform and content to be used on mobile devices, an aspect Katzenberg said has been neglected by streaming competitors.

"Literally less than 10 percent of Netflix's viewing, less than 10 percent of Hulu's viewing is actually mobile. It's not optimized for it either," he said. "If we are right, and if it is successful, others will follow."

Disclosure: Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and, is a co-owner of Hulu.