Time Inc. Chases Digital Celebs With ‘Instant’ Video Publication

Short, shareable videos designed for mobile viewing will be about and created by Internet stars

time inc - Instant
Courtesy of Time Inc.

Time Inc. is looking to reinvent the celebrity fanzine for Generation Z.

The media and publishing firm is training firepower on digital talent like PewDiePie, Tyler Oakley, Smosh and Lele Pons with “Instant,” a new video-only publication dedicated to covering the lives and creative projects of the Internet famous.

The company plans to show off Instant at VidCon 2016 next month in Anaheim, Calif. The publication will include news, features and exclusives about — and created by — top influencers on YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, YouNow, Vine and other platforms. Instant will be designed for mobile web browsers with content presented in a continuous video stream (with no app download required).

“Digital artists are the most explosive and addictive phenomenon in celebrity and entertainment today,” said Will Lee, digital editorial director for People and Entertainment Weekly. “Instant will be the first and foremost platform for and by these creators, with a beautiful new consumption experience for our audience.”

For Time Inc., the launch of Instant is a bid to stay relevant as younger consumers show more affinity toward digital-native stars than traditional Hollywood celebs. A survey conducted for Variety in July 2015 that found among U.S. teens, eight of the top 10 most influential celebrities are YouTube stars.

While Instant will have its own brand identity and staff, Time Inc. will leverage People and Entertainment Weekly to get it off the ground. The digital celebrity content will have a “significant presence” on People and EW websites and social channels and in the print magazines, the company said. In addition, the Instant team will work closely with HelloGiggles, the digital publishing startup co-founded by Zooey Deschanel focused on female millennials acquired by Time Inc. in October 2015, to produce a variety of programming and develop audience strategy.

Instant will not run traditional advertising: It will carry native and branded advertising exclusively, and the ads will be “a seamless part of the editorial offering,” Time Inc. said.

Instant’s production team will be led by editorial director Kirstin Benson, who joins Time Inc. from celebrity social-media service WhoSay, where she led editorial operations. She reports to Will Lee.

The video publication will feature short, shareable videos — which the company is calling “Instants” — across vertical categories including entertainment, beauty, fashion, food and social media.

Time Inc. first revealed plans for the digital-celeb-focused product earlier this month at its Digital Content NewFronts presentation, where it also announced the People and Entertainment Weekly Network, an over-the-top service with long-form original programming set for a fall launch.