Jeff Gaspin, Jon Klein to Launch Online Video Platform TAPP

Jon Klein & Jeff Gaspin
Jon Klein & Jeff Gaspin
 Courtesy of Tapp

Two longtime television executives are making a bet on digital with the launch of online video platform TAPP.

Jeff Gaspin, former chairman of NBC Universal Television, and Jon Klein, former president of CNN, tell THR that the subscription-based platform will be centered on personalities with super-fan followings. TAPP, which stands for "TV App," will launch its first channel in the coming weeks.

"We really wanted to come up with channels that were talent-based and that were really geared toward the super fan," says Gaspin. "As opposed to long-form scripted or reality content, we really wanted an intimate experience between the channel lead and the fan base."

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The New York Post on Monday reported that Gaspin and Klein were courting Sarah Palin for one of those channels. They tell THR that they are not ready to announce the personalities that they plan to work with, but they envision a wide-ranging group that comes from lifestyle, sports, politics, arts, sciences and other backgrounds.

Initially, each personality will have their own channel available on mobile devices, laptops and Internet-connected smart TVs. The company plans to eventually create a TAPP hub where someone could subscribe to and watch multiple channels.

TAPP is acting as a full-service shop for its talent and will provide back-end technology, app development, production, marketing, distribution and data analysis.

"There are a lot of stars that have an intense following and would like to connect with that following and monetize it in more ways, but they don't know where to start," says Klein. "We're trying to provide an end-to-end solution for them. That leaves the stars free to do what they do best, which is delight their biggest fans."

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Klein and Gaspin have assembled a robust group of initial investors that includes Discovery Communications, Demarest Films, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and investment bankers Ken Moelis, Peter Ezersky and Michael Huber. Sean Atkins, Discovery senior vp and general manager of digital, has joined the TAPP board.

The online video space has become densely populated in recent years with players such as Google's YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and others. But Gaspin says that TAPP sets itself apart through its talent.

"You can't duplicate our personalities," he says. "We believe having a series of personalities keep us in a separate and distinct marketplace."

Adds Klein, "Unlike YouTube, we're not trying to create stars out of total unknowns -- we're trying to take stars and give them them a foothold and presence on a whole new platform. I think everybody is looking for what the next big disruption in media is going to be. Our investors see TAPP as uniquely positioned to lead that next big disruption."

E-mail: Natalie.Jarvey@THR.com
Twitter: @NatJarv

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