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Hearst’s Cosmo Bows Sexed-Up Fitness Video-Subscription Service, Priced Higher Than Netflix

CosmoBody, first of publisher's planned Internet channels, offered for $9.95 per month

Are seductive abs really worth more than Netflix? Hearst is betting that young females will pay a premium to access a collection of Cosmopolitan-branded workout and lifestyle videos with titles like “Sexier by Saturday,” “Revenge Body” and “Score a Celeb Body.”

The media and publishing company launched CosmoBody, the first of several envisioned Internet subscription video-on-demand channels, keying off the women’s magazine known for its enumerated sex tips. The service — which carries the tagline “Get Hotter. Faster” — is priced at $9.95 per month (one buck more than Netflix’s $8.99 monthly price for new members).

Hearst’s SVOD strategy is a departure from the Internet-video approaches of other traditional publishing companies, like Condé Nast and Time Inc., which have launched free, ad-supported video properties.

At the same time, Hearst has other ad-supported video properties. “Hearst is a company that likes to take a lot different bets,” said Hearst Digital Studios chief Neeraj Khemlani, who also is co-president of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication. “This is just another bet and another business model — we have no idea what will work. It’s another iron the fire.”

CosmoBody includes workout and lifestyle videos produced by Mark Burnett’s VIMBY studio, as well as daily editorial content in the familiar Cosmo vein (e.g. dating advice, fashion tips and cocktail recipes).

“We want to empower our Cosmo audience to feel sexy and strong, without sacrificing any of the fun,” Joanna Coles, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, said in announcing the SVOD service.

But it’s not clear how many of the mag’s fans will actually sign up for CosmoBody, which is more than double the print edition’s $3.99 cover price.

Khemlani said CosmoBody will appeal to women who have previously bought fitness DVDs. “We have a strategic advantage because (Cosmopolitan is) a brand that is recognized by young women globally,” he said. “It’s market of people globally who want to pay for premium fitness content, and, oh by the way not watch the same workout in their basement for six months.”

CosmoBody’s “highly stylized and seductive videos” features eight celebrity trainers: dance cardio trainer Jennifer Johnson, boot-camp specialists Astrid Swan McGuire and Adam Rosante; martial arts expert Ary Nunez; strength trainer Don Saladino; yoga specialist Tara Stiles; dance instructor Katia Pryce; and basic fitness instructor Rique Uresti. Other featured contributors include food blogger Camille Becerra.

The service is available on the web and via iOS and Android devices. Hearst pointed out that iOS users can stream workouts from their phones and tablets to Apple TV set-tops, and the company promises to connect to additional devices in the coming months.

For the company, CosmoBody is the template — and guinea pig — that will establish how Hearst Magazines and Hearst Digital Studios expect to work together on future SVOD launches. Hearst Digital Studios also hopes to strike deals with external brands to “develop over-the-top SVOD channels for tomorrow.”

In addition to Khemlani, Hearst Digital Studios other top execs include executive creative director David Vogler and SVP and g.m. of platform Chris Grosso, former head of AOL’s homepage. Liz Plosser, senior editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, is CosmoBody’s editorial director.

Separately, Hearst’s Seventeen magazine has teamed with DreamWorks Animation’s AwesomenessTV to relaunch the teen mag’s YouTube channel.

Watch a promo video for CosmoBody:

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