By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg
The upcoming special “The Children of 9/11: 15 Years Later” focuses on five teenagers born after the terror attacks who never knew their fathers. But viewers won’t find the almost hourlong program on any of the major television networks.
Instead, it will debut as part of the Sept. 13 launch of the People/Entertainment Weekly Network, Time Inc.’s advertising-supported, streaming video service.
The channel, which will be available as an app and streaming service on popular web-connected devices and on People’s website, represents Time Inc.’s latest bet on digital advertising. As print ad page sales continue to decline, the launch represents an opportunity for the magazine publisher to diversify by gaining audience and scale in the fast-growing video advertising business.
“This is the new frontier,” said Rich Battista, the veteran TV and digital executive recently promoted to president of brands at Time Inc. “We’re launching it in a new world and a new ecosystem where the future of long-form video is and where consumption habits are going and where advertisers are going.”
The free video service, which will be available to watch live or on demand, will focus on celebrities, human interest stories, coverage of such entertainment franchises as “Game of Thrones” and “Star Wars,” and live events, including the upcoming Emmy Awards. It will live stream 24/7 with five hours of original programming a week and syndicated shows from its websites and Time Inc. archives.
New series include “BingeWorthy,” a program in which hosts Jessica Shaw and Touré discuss the hottest shows on TV. Time Inc. now produces most of its video lineup in-house but is in discussions to acquire programming from outside producers.
Time Inc. is wagering its premium lifestyle programming can break into a crowded market where dozens of digital video services—from Sony Pictures’ Crackle, home of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” to anime-centric Crunchyroll and Verizon’s free mobile video app go90—are competing for viewers (especially younger consumers) and a slice of the advertising pie.
Spending in the U.S. on digital video advertising is expected to hit $28.1 billion in 2020, up from $9.9 billion in 2016, according to estimates from financial services firm Cowen & Co.
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