Jon Stewart is Changing Streaming TV – with the Help of HBO


It looks like Jon Stewart is ready to change the face of news – again. His tenure at the Daily Show marked a dramatic change in the way that television news was broadcast, and in the way that people across the world even understand what news is. Now he’s bringing that same kind of innovation to streaming content.

HBO has just announced that Stewart has signed a four year production contract that will have him providing a range of content for the cable behemoth, but kicking off with short form digital content that will be available on HBO’s premium digital server.

There’s a lot of short form content online already, but Stewart’s version is revolutionary because it is set to be created with a new technology (pioneered by graphics company OTOY) that will let Stewart create content multiple times per day. Currently OTOY is primarily known for its virtual reality gaming software in addition to its streaming gaming service. This new partnership is clearly an attempt to create something that is unlike the kind of streaming content that is currently available. Though there is heavy speculation that it will look like Vine or Snapchat, there’s really just no way to know until more details are released, and as of right now HBO is staying fairly tightlipped.

HBO Now is going to be the primary host of this new content, however it has been announced that it will also be available on HBO Go and for cable customers. The big change here of course is that this unlike The Daily Show, will not be able to reach out to millions of cable customers.

The short form content is only one piece of the deal, though the rest is not clear just yet. However given the success of Stewart’s directorial debut, Rosewater, it’s easy to see that he is likely to be partnering with HBO for more hard hitting and extended content. That film brought Stewart not only serious attention from moviegoers, but also some serious attention from the government of Iran, who declared it to be a piece of anti-Iranian propaganda. The partnership will allow Stewart the room to be creative and to bring his comedic and political commentaries to the small (and potentially big) screen. Both HBO and Stewart are known for welcoming controversy, and clearly this partnership is going to make some waves.

The news brought a shockwave of support and excitement through social media, as late last month Stewart had announced that he would be retreating mostly into retirement from the public eye to take part in his own “moment of Zen” in order to help his wife run their animal sanctuary in upstate New York. The long format of The Daily Show, and the incredible amount of energy and time that it took, had been Stewart’s primary reason for stepping back from those duties. According to Stewart “Appearing on television 22 minutes a night clearly broke me. I’m pretty sure I can produce a few minutes of content every now and again.” It’s clear that, despite his need for a respite, Jon Stewart just can’t stay silent.

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