As if pay-TV operators and cable networks didn’t have enough to compete with, traditional print titans are now seeking a piece of the video market through OTT channels.
Time Inc., still the biggest magazine publisher in the U.S., launched the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN) today, delivering free-to-view, ad-supported streaming of original series and documentaries.
The well-backed channel launches with ample distribution in place via Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Comcast’s Xfinity TV, among other partnerships. The platform is also available via Roku, Apple iOS and Android.
The OTT channel launches with sponsorship from L’Oreal and MillerCoors already in place, as well.
"If you look at the subscription business, there are a lot of niche brands that have recently launched, but if you look at the straight AVOD business, it's definitely an interesting area," said Bruce Gersh, senior VP of brand business development, told Adweek. "These two brands coming together as the first blue-chip brands entering the ad-supported OTT space is a really great opportunity for us."
In addition to 50 hours of already-produced Time Inc. video content, the 94-year-old publishing company wants to produce 300 hours of programing this year for the OTT channel and 14 original series and specials.
This content includes "The Children of 9/11: 15 Years Later," a documentary that premieres today alongside the platform’s launch. Also debuting today is People Cover Story, a weekly series video extension of whatever feature People Magazine has on its cover. This week’s subject is former Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey.
“I think 15 years ago, People and SI and InStyle should have launched cable channels, because that’s when the land grab was,” said Jess Cagle, editorial director of People and Entertainment Weekly, speaking to Variety. “Now is not the time to launch a cable channel.”