Held at Gotham Hall in New York, the New York-based publisher launched a slate of shows featuring celebrities, a virtual reality partnership and an animated documentary based on Kobe Bryant’s retirement from the NBA.
“We are rapidly moving to a video-centered digital world,” said Rich Battista, president, entertainment & sports group and video, who offered that Time Inc. provides a mix of social and live video, as well as both short form and long-form documentaries.
He unveiled a new ad-supported, over-the-top network from People and Entertainment Weekly, which would provide video streaming of celebrity, pop culture, lifestyle and human interest content. The network, which launches in the fall, will offer more than 100 hours of original programming and a library of more than 50 hours of content.
A sizzle reel then played, and included clips of Syrian refugees on a raft, a football team, Indy 500 race-car drivers, actor Matt Damon talking about safe water and Reese Witherspoon sitting at a long, dinning room table.
Jen Wong, Time Inc.’s new president of digital then appeared on stage to talk to advertisers about the services her company offers, namely advanced data, targeting and measurement, as well as content and messaging.
“Our brands are trusted and they are certainly known to all,” Wong said. “Great video means nothing if people don’t see it…We are a one-stop shop.”
The executive explained that Time Inc. acquired Viant, giving them TV-centric data on consumers’ consumption habits, as well as Smart TV and mobile insight. She also noted that Viant is a joint-venture partner with Xumo, an OTT platform with 78 free premium digital channels.
The presentation became glitzier when Jess Cagle, the editorial director of People and Entertainment Weekly revealed a partnership between Sports Illustrated and Kobe Bryant for a short animated film called “Dear Basketball” on the athlete’s life after the NBA.
He then introduced a new show by Southern Living starring Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former president George W. Bush. Called “Southern in the City,” the show follows Hager as she tries to reconnect with her Texas roots in New York, where she now resides. During a clip of the show, Hager can be seen trying barbecue and whiskey from restaurant Blue Smoke and buying a pair of boots from Space Cowboy.
Hager made a brief appearance on stage, a rare opportunity that gave Cagle the chance to ask her who she’s voting for in the presidential election.
“I’d like to plead the Fifth on that one,” she chuckled.
Cagle’s ease with celebrities will be utilized in a new show called “The Jess Cagle Interview.” In that show’s sizzle reel, Cagle asked a slew of actors what their “biggest extravagance is,” to which actor Ryan Reynolds flatly said: “cocaine.”
The audience would get to see Cagle work his magic on a real-life celebrity, actress Sarah Paulson, who sat down for a demo of the show.
When it came to the question of her biggest indulgence, she said: “Cheese is the glue that holds my life together.”
Cagle would showcase a slate of documentaries, including EW’s “Pop Docs,” which will be produced by Morgan Spurlock, who directed “Super Size Me,” among other films. The series will give the backstory to impactful pop-culture moments, such as the release of “Rocky,” “Forrest Gump,” the making of “The Daily Show” and how Ellen Degeneres’ coming out moment on her sitcom “Ellen” changed her life.
Time Inc. will also launch “Swimsuit Unfiltered,” a social media-centric series that follows two SI swimsuit models every month on their journeys traveling the world. The models, which include Gigi Hadid and Ashley Graham, will make use of their large social media followings and take over SI’s social media feeds.
InStyle will get its own series on becoming a new mother. The show is hosted by editor Kahlana Barfield Brown, who is pregnant with her first child during the filming of the series, and wonders if she can still dress fashionably during the process.
Time Inc. also touches deeper topics in its documentary series with “The Essence of America,” which examines race and gender, as well with “American Lives.” Time will also get a show inspired by its Time100 event called “Time Influencers.
Perhaps Time Inc.’s biggest reveal, however, was the revitalization of its Life brand through a virtual reality series. Called “Life VR,” the series is slated to launch in the fall.
“Throughout its history, Life has been a lens through which to see deeper into the world around us,” said Nancy Gibbs, editor of Time, who oversees the Life brand. “This breakthrough in technology now invites our audience not just to observe but to experience the stories we are telling.”