Time Inc. returned to the NewFronts this year, proclaiming plans to produce 10,000 videos this year with a mix of new entertainment, news and lifestyle-themed shows drawing from its varied portfolio of titles. Here’s the takeaway.
Time Inc. has long positioned itself as having access to celebrities and newsmakers through its storied brands like Time, People and Sports Illustrated, and it used its NewFronts presentation Thursday to promote how it’s bringing that access to its digital video offerings. The publisher introduced 11 new shows including “A Year in Space,” a documentary on astronaut Scott Kelly’s mission aboard the International Space Station; “Popography,” a series featuring in-depth artist and celebrity interviews with People and Entertainment Weekly editorial director Jess Cagle; and “40/40 Live,” a talk show set in Jay Z’s luxury sports bar.
Time Inc., which spun off as a public company from Time Warner in 2014, also used the platform to trumpet its growth in video over the past year, albeit from a small base, as it seeks to take advantage of the growth in video ad dollars as its core print business shrinks. The company pushed its quality message, but in a BuzzFeed era, it wasn’t above talking about scale. Time Inc. said it delivered 1 billion video streams last year, with its shows picking up prestigious Emmy and Edward R. Murrow awards. Unique viewership is up 78 percent year over year, with average streams per viewer up 233 percent and viewers spending an average of 27 minutes a month watching Time Inc. content, said J.R. McCabe, the company’s svp of video.
To convince advertisers to spend more money on its video, Time Inc. said it was doubling its distribution partners to include companies such as Gannett and CBS Local Digital Media. People magazine was an inaugural publisher on Snapchat Discover earlier this year, and Time Inc. pledged to continue to use social platforms to gain distribution for its content. The company also announced new ways of buying video by topic and audience segments and introduced new ad formats such as sponsorships and branded video. In other words: This is the new, flexible Time Inc., not the siloed, hard-to-buy publishing company of days past.
It was only Time Inc.’s second NewFronts, but the presentation had a feel of déjà vu, given the venue (Time Square’s Millennium Broadway) and speakers including the stage-loving Cagle were the same as last year. The event finished off with a performance by rock/country singer Elle King. Perhaps sensing the audience’s NewFronts fatigue, Mark Ford, evp of global advertising at Time Inc., joked that people make Time Inc. their last stop.
“There’s a difference between getting an impression and making one.” — Mark Ford
“Like last year, they did a great job of demonstrating their strong brands and that they know their audience. This year, it was great to hear their story plus distribution plus how they’re creating new franchises,” said Amanda Richman, Starcom’s president of investment and activation, adding that Time Inc. also is bringing a more flexible approach to working with advertisers.
Photo courtesy of Taylor Ballantyne/Time Inc.