Former ABC and WMA exec Bruce Gersh has joined Time Inc. to spearhead business development for People and Entertainment Weekly.

Gersh will report to Rich Battista, exec VP of Time Inc. who oversees People and Entertainment Weekly. Gersh’s appointment as senior VP of business and strategy is a sign of Time Inc.’s focus on expanding its marquee brands into TV, digital content, e-commerce and live events.

Battista, who joined Time Inc. last April, said the goal is to better harness the platform provided by the digital audience for People and Entertainment Weekly, which together draw 40 million unique visitors a month.

“We have major scale, and now we have to leverage that scale into new revenue streams,” Battista said.

The lifestyle, pop culture and entertainment-centric coverage areas of People and EW are so broad that the possibilities are significant, he added. “We have permission to play in areas that go way beyond celebrities and entertainment,” he said. Battista noted that People in particular is devoting more resources to coverage of food and home design subjects.

Gersh’s background in TV and digital media — he spent the past year as head of digital for ITV Studios America and co-founded FishBowl Media — made him a natural choice to drive business development, Battista said. Both People and EW have numerous TV projects in development although Battista would not divulge specifics.

Gersh said opportunities for licensing and e-commerce had been largely untapped by People and EW. He cited his experience during his ABC days of how the network’s daytime soaps and other buzzy stars built significant brands through such deals.

“There are huge opportunities here,” Gersh said.