Discovery Is Trying Something New with New Form

/ Apr 4, 2014

New Form Digital

Yesterday, Discovery announced New Form, a joint venture with producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer to produce original digital content.

Discovery already has a pretty robust digital video business, centering on its Discovery Digital Networks division, which oversees networks like Revision3, Animalist, TestTube, and YouTube star Phil DeFranco’s network of channels. Altogether, these account for more than 90 channels on YouTube alone, not to mention their respective owned-and-operated platforms. Additionally, Discovery’s TV networks also have online video initiatives such as Animal Planet Live and Science Channel’s Sci2. Across all of its online video properties, Discovery generated more than 300 million streams in the past year.

But New Form will exist outside of that portfolio. Content produced by the studio will be platform agnostic — as in it won’t be created solely for distribution on Discovery-owned outlets. In fact, it won’t even have its own video hub.

“Wherever it makes the most sense,” said Sean Atkins, SVP of digital media at Discovery Communications, speaking to VideoInk at Discovery’s TV upfront event last night. To that effect, New Form will actively look for advertising and distribution partners for its content. In some cases, though, if it makes sense for a Discovery platform to host a show produced by New Form, it will license said programming.

New Form will also search for new creators to work with. According to Ron Howard, who spoke on stage during the upfront, New Form is “going to try and find as many new creators” as it can to bring that talent into the fold. Leading the way will be New Form chief creative officer Kathleen Grace, who had plenty of experience on this front during her time as head of creative development at YouTube Space LA.

When it comes to the actual content, New Form will focus on scripted projects, including short-form content. “To me, the internet has always offered this important promise of creative freedom,” said Howard. “Brian and I have a lot of ideas for short-form content and all of its possibilities.”

In a way, New Form mirrors what Discovery is doing on television. The company, long known for non-fiction programming, has been making more forays into the scripted arena across its network of TV channels. Makes sense, then, that it would look to pursue the same on the digital side. (That said, New Form won’t completely abstain from unscripted projects.)

But don’t expect any of these to make their way to television. The focus, as stressed by Howard and the Discovery team, is to produce digital content for digital platforms.

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