New Form Digital is a video distribution and production company backed by Discovery, Brian Grazer, and Ron Howard. But, as the name implies, the company has stepped away from traditional channels and blurs the line between new and old media.
New Form approaches both sides of the media business with the same goal – generating audience and revenue online. It works with popular YouTubers, like Mystery Guitar Man, Anna Akana, and Sawyer Hartman as well as traditional artists like Lisa Kudrow, Mitchell Kreigman (the creator of Clarissa Explains it All), and Jim Henson’s creature shop to bring in the needed audience to achieve this goal.
Since the media startup launched last year, it has adapted a unique model for series development. Similar to TV’s traditional pilot season, New Form commissions a dozen or so shorts each year through its incubator program.
Oscar’s Hotel For Fantastical Creatures is one of these pilot-turned-series. The show uses characters from Jim Henson’s creator shop to construct a surreal universe of monstrous creatures who run a magical boarding house. The show features an all-star cast of popular YouTubers like Chris Kendall, Grace Helbig, and Hannah Hart, and well as some surprise celebs like Patrick Stewart and Alfred Molina.
New Form has the option to launch one (or all) of its pilots into a series co-produced and distributed online. Oscar’s Hotel For Fantastical Creatures is the first of these pilots and will launch today on Vimeo On Demand.
New Form is testing out the exclusivity route to see if this is the right strategy for creating and monetizing online content. In recent years, the struggle to create online quality content has been about making the money to justify the creation. It isn’t easy to strike a deal with Netflix or Hulu, but simply uploading to YouTube isn’t likely to cover the costs necessary to satisfy an entire cast and crew.
We really combine kind of the best of both worlds in the sense that we move really quickly, we work with talent that has an existing audience. Kathleen Grace, New Form Digital
“We really combine kind of the best of both worlds in the sense that we move really quickly, we work with talent that has an existing audience,” New Form’s chief creative officer Kathleen Grace told TechCrunch. “Whenever we have an idea we want to make bigger we think about all the people in our network that could potentially work with us on this.”
It’s a fun experiment reflecting the quintessential Hollywood push for new ways to entertain, but also reflects the fragmentation of audience and the struggle for attention in this new age of digital content creation. It will be interesting to follow New Form and see how they mix YouTube stars and traditional celebrity as it grows and adds new series to the portfolio.
We took a look inside New Form while on a recent trip to Los Angeles. Check it out in the video above.