Nightly entertainment news show “E! News” has spent the past 20 months shifting its business from two separate teams — one focused on the TV broadcast and the other on digital — into one 200-person unit that’s creating unique content for all platforms. The organization, which moved into a new 50,000-square-foot headquarters a month and a half ago, is now led by leadership team that comprises mostly digital execs.
“We’ve centralized leadership overseeing content, production, technology, social, everything in order to have a unified strategy,” said John Najarian, evp and gm of E! News. “It gives us the ability to tap into the skills, resources and capabilities of the TV show and bring that to the digital side and also have the digital DNA work its way into the ecosystem.”
On the TV side, it has meant bringing more data, analytics and visuals, as well as an overall greater sense of urgency to the production, Najarian said. But it’s not all about making the TV show better. Two key social platforms E! News is focusing on are, unsurprisingly, Facebook Live and Snapchat Discover.
In March, E! News announced that it was bringing its daily web show “Live from E!” to Facebook Live. The multi-camera, 20-minute show features E! News talent sitting behind a desk and analyzing trending stories in entertainment and pop culture. It’s averaging 150,000 views with roughly half the viewership watching the show live when it airs, according to Najarian.
Encouraged by the show’s performance, E! News is expanding its slate of live programming for Facebook. By September, it will have five weekly web shows for Facebook Live in addition to the daily “Live from E!” The slate includes “TV Therapy,” which will have E! News TV reporters discussing the biggest moments on TV in the past week, and “Another 15 Minutes,” which will look back at the reality TV and viral video stars of yesteryear. In keeping with its every-platform ethos, these shows will also roll out on YouTube and Periscope later in the fall.
On Snapchat, E! News is part of parent company NBCUniversal’s original content deal with the app, which will bring mini TV shows to the Discover media platform. The outlet will debut a weekly Snapchat series called “The Rundown,” which will have host Erin Lim give her take on the latest things in pop culture in four or five minutes.
“It’s a great opportunity to get our point of view out and stay incredibly relevant with an audience that, quite frankly, may not watch TV,” said Najarian.
E! News has assigned five writers, producers and editors to the Snapchat series, though the show will make use of the editorial, data, technology and production resources available across the entire organization.
The distributed-content model has been embraced by many digital publishers — from BuzzFeed to Refinery29 — claiming that it’s smarter to reach viewers where they are already spending a lot of time rather than forcing them to come to their owned-and-operated properties. Media brands with roots in TV and the older web are also following suit. For instance, CBS’s nightly entertainment-news show “Entertainment Tonight” also shifted its focus recently to produce more content for social platforms.
Today, E! News publishes roughly 800 videos per month across digital platforms. The output has increased by 50 percent since E! News started to shift its focus 20 months ago, Najarian said.
The increased focus on social distribution has helped E! News grow to 9.3 million fans on Facebook, where it generated 25.5 million views in July, according to Tubular Labs. It’s on par with People Magazine (27.4 million views) and ahead of TMZ (13.7 million views).
“We see the emergence of these major platforms in digital, which are doing an amazing job with scale,” said Najarian. “For us not to be there, it would be letting the brand go into the sunset, which we have no intention of doing.”
Images via NBCUniversal