Time Inc. Reveals Branded OTT Video Channels, VR Programming at NewFronts
Overall, a good day for the legacy publisher.
Today was a good day for Time Inc.
The company announced its best quarterly earnings in two years with a 23 percent year-over-year growth in digital revenue and a 1 percent growth in overall revenue this morning. But at New York’s Gotham Hall, the story was about video and an aggressively large slate at NewFronts.
Rich Battista, president of Entertainment and Sports Group and Video, welcomed the overflow crowd (including several standing-room-only spectators). Battista introduced the new tagline for its video outfit “Go Beyond,” as well as the company’s foundational three-pillared approach that will leverage “unparalleled access, powerful brands and a storytelling DNA.”
“Today is the dawn of a new day for video,” he said emphatically and went on to add that the “underpinning of our strategy is a content anywhere approach that’s specifically tailored to platforms.” That may sound like nothing more than a sexy sound bite, but the company has increased video viewership by 200% year-over-year with this idea.
Looking forward, Time Inc. is aligning its distribution strategy in three primary video formats: social and live, short form and long form. The company has already been actively producing content in each of these buckets, but is expanding its programming to serve advertisers with more data and the content and audiences they’re seeking.
One of the biggest reveals was an entirely new OTT People and Entertainment Weekly branded channel that will produce and air over 100 hours of original content this year. “We believe the OTT space is a significant opportunity, especially for our advertising partners,” Battista said.
Additionally, the company has teamed up with Xumo to stream even more of its content on smart TVs and OTT devices.
Recently hired chief digital officer, Jen Wong, followed Battista on stage and expressed her excitement for the company’s unsung hero: data. She explained that the company’s recent acquisition of Viant will provide them with intelligence advertisers should be excited about and described the platform as a “promotional powerhouse that marketers can tap into.”
Wong went on to say that Time Inc. offers its partners “turnkey solutions” and the flexibility to work with one brand or the company’s entire portfolio.
People and Entertainment Weekly’s editorial director, Jess Cagle, followed Wong’s pep talk and revealed a slate that is as diverse as Time Inc.’s portfolio.
A dozen video programs, varying in format, platform and targeted audiences were introduced to the crowd. A few highlights include an animated feature about Kobe Bryant’s retirement letter, “Dear Basketball,” with music composed by John Williams and animation by Disney animator Glenn Keane; a People and Time collaboration, “American Lives,” about ordinary people with extraordinary stories; and Entertainment Weekly’s “POPDOC," which will tell the real stories behind some of the most significant events in pop culture history, and will be done in cooperation with documentarian Morgan Spurlock, who was also in attendance.
Of course, no NewFronts would be complete without introducing some special guests, which this year included astronaut Mark Kelly, actress Sarah Paulson and former first daughter, Jenna Bush Hager. And, no 2016 NewFronts would be complete without the reveal of a virtual reality product. The Life brand will lend its name to the company’s VR programming, which is scheduled to launch this fall. (That reveal got a rousing response from attendees.)
Chief revenue officer, Mark Ford, closed the show with a statement that sums it all up in very simple terms: “This is the new Time Inc.” To take that a step further, this is more than the new Time Inc., this is the new magazine media.