NewFronts 2015: Time Inc. Unveils Reality Series, Jay Z Project in Video Push

The labels have stuck for decades: People and Entertainment Weekly are best known as purveyors of words on the printed page, while TV networks are the outlets from which viewers expect reality series and programs that examine entertainment.

Now the lines are set to blur: The Time Inc. magazines will unveil four new streaming-video series – one of which features a former star from ABC’s “The Bachelorette” trying to make her way in New York City – as part of a marked effort by the company to move more rapidly into new-media venues.

“We need to be a multimedia company and be much more aggressive in the video space,” said Rich Battista, who was named executive VP overseeing People and EW in March.

Time Inc. is unveiling four new programs as part of the annual Digital Content NewFronts, a series of pitches to Madison Avenue by the nation’s players in digital media. Long known as one of the nation’s largest publishers of steadfast periodicals like Sports Illustrated and Time, the company is, like many of its competitors, moving into new areas as advertisers peel back money from print publications and invest more heavily in digital and social media. Condé Nast, publisher of Wired, GQ and the New Yorker, articulated a plan earlier this week to broaden the amount of video it offers centered on themes related to its various magazines. In some cases, Condé will even produce video much like a TV series, such as one effort that marries sci-fi and comedy.

The Time Inc. outlets “have tremendous authority with audiences,” said Cagle, in an interview, which look to them to learn more about Hollywood as well as human-interest stories.

One of the new programs from People and EW is “Popography,” a series that takes viewers deep into the lives of artists and entertainers, providing everything from vintage photos and the potential of seeing famous figures in intimate settings that have great relevance to their lives. Jess Cagle, editorial director of People and Entertainment Weekly, will host. Each episode could be between 30 and 45 minutes in length, Cagle said.

“The Bullseye” takes its name from the final-page feature seen each week in EW. Senior writer Tim Stack will hold forth with sidekicks as well as a celebrity guest and talk in rapid-fire fashion about the best and worst in the week’s popular culture.

In “Andi’s Apple,” former “Bachelorette” contestant Andi Dorfman navigates the dating world of New York City, while trying to enjoy the city’s fashion, fitness and food. And “40/40 Live” takes viewers inside Jay-Z’s 40 40 Club in Manhattan for intimate conversation hosted by WNBA point guard Skylar Diggins.

Time Inc. announced an additional seven other projects in development:

  • Time’s “A Year in Space,” which chronicles astronaut Scott Kelly’s year in the International Space Station;
  • “At the Table,” Time Inc.’s pop culture feast with lifestyle and cooking tips;
  • Essence’s docu-series “Black Girl Magic,” about the lives of six African-American teenage girls;
  • “Building Hope,” a series with Operation Finally Home and Time Inc. that chronicles the lives of five military veterans whose homes are rebuilt by their communities as they return home;
  • “Sports Illustrated Films,” a new dedicated video initiative to tell sports stories across all screens and mediums;
  • Time’s “Social Currency: The New Famous,” an inside look at today’s newest celebrities of social influencers; and
  • InStyle reality competition show, “The Next Star Stylist.”

Executives said Time Inc. intends to pursue projects that may not spring directly from content produced by their periodicals, but that would still be welcomed by one of those outlets. “We certainly want to use our brands to create content, but we also want to create content that is relevant to our brands,” said J.R. McCabe, senior VP of video at Time Inc.

Using research about readers, the company intends to develop series that play into various interests, said Battista – and “talent-driven projects” will be part of the mix.

The company hopes to attract more advertising from luxury fashion, beauty and style marketers, said Cagle, who cited Toyota and S.C. Johson’s Glade as marketers that have signed up to sponsor Time Inc. video projects in the recent past.

“There’s a lot of audience potentially there,” said Cagle of new video series. “The only surprise is we haven’t done more before now. Now it’s the priority.

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