Wall Street Journal's Digital Content NewFronts

Business publisher touts new slate of video series, reaching affluent audience

Wall Street Journal execs told Madison Avenue types that company reaches well beyond financial news and dead-tree roots of namesake biz newspaper, promising to pump reams of new, original online video tailored to a rich and influential audience worldwide.

Biz publisher held event Monday ayem kicking off weeklong Digital Content NewFronts series in Gotham. WSJ’s theme for presentation to ad buyers — billed as a “newsfront” — was “more than you expect.” Company pushed entertainment, sports and lifestyle programming in addition to core business news.

“The most exciting opportunities for us are in the field of video,” said Gerry Baker, biz pub’s new managing editor. “We’ve changed the way people view the Wall Street Journal.”

New content in development includes: docu series “WSJ Startup of the Year,” premiering in June, featuring 25 aspiring entrepreneurs pitching biz plans to established execs; sports and political shows; and WorldStream, featuring short-form dispatches from international journalists.

Among nearly 30 biz execs skedded to participate in “Startup of the Year” as mentors include: Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group; Peter Diamandis, chairman and founder, X Prize Foundation; Carly Fiorina, chairman Good360 and former chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard; and Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google.

Company also highlighted WSJ Custom Studios, which will work with advertisers to create specialized video segments with integrated brand placement. And data-crunching tools to let marketers target auds is central to WSJ’s sales pitch.

“We’re not just a content company,” said Dow Jones & Co. topper Lex Fenwick, also WSJ’s publisher. “We are starting on WSJ.com to build not only great content, but a platform… to build information about the customers that come and read our content.”

Key rival for the Journal is Bloomberg, which similarly has ramped online video production — and unlike WSJ has foothold in cable with Bloomberg TV.

The Wall Street Journal currently creates more than 100 hours of original content per month, across 30 platforms. Its online video properties now deliver about 21 million streams per month, per Omniture.

“We have the opportunity to surprise people at how aggressively we’ve moved into the video space,” said Nina Lawrence, WSJ’s veep of global marketing and ad sales.

The Wall Street Journal print edition has more than 2 million subscribers, making it the largest U.S. newspaper by total paid circulation, while digital property has 1.3 million paid subs and averages more than 50 million visitors per month.

At WSJ’s NewFronts session waiters passed cocktails, a “Mad Men” throwback that seemed unwise for bizzers intent on attending weeklong marathon of events. Some may have needed a Bloody Mary, though, after doors for 9 a.m. event didn’t open until 9:02, leaving people standing in spring drizzle outside Espace venue on West 42nd Street.

Straining to show that this isn’t your father’s Wall Street Journal, guests included two rapppers: MC Hammer and Lupe Fiasco. Hammer, who runs management company with stable of mixed-martial arts fighters, is among entrepreneurs who will be among mentors in “WSJ Startup of the Year” series.

WSJ raffled off grand prize to attendees: private movie screening for 20 at 20th Century Fox’s Manhattan screening room.

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