PeopleTV is aggressively pursuing its ad-free, OTT strategy by leveraging its well-known People brand, deep intellectual property and innovative original programming. PeopleTV is the new brand for the People/Entertainment Weekly (PEN) brand that was launched a year ago. Susanne Mei, PeopleTV’s GM, told me in a briefing that “PEN” didn’t have any inherent meaning to its target audiences, so to simplify things, the network has adopted the PeopleTV brand though ET content will remain integral to the content strategy.
People, part of the Time Inc. stable, is one of many magazines that are shifting focus to video, to better connect with audiences and tap new revenue opportunities. Over the past year, PeopleTV has generated 100 million views and 2 million downloads. The property currently has over 300 hours of original video, with 5-7 new hours being created per week.
Susanne said that since People has many different aspects of its print editorial coverage, it’s continuing to figure out which of these translates well to video. Most of its content is consumed on-demand, but live also has its place, especially around award shows, as PeopleTV recently did a red carpet stream for the Emmys.
Connected TV viewing has been pivotal to driving longer-form viewership, with Roku in particular playing a key role. Desktop and mobile are also important, with both driving shorter-form sampling.
For audience development, Susanne said that social is been extremely important, benefiting from promotions from celebrities with big social followings. Celebrities are motivated to promote PeopleTV’s content, with a perfect example being Julianne Hough’s wedding spread, for which People had an exclusive. Susanne also said Time Inc’s owned and operated properties are also a critical driver of audience growth.
PeopleTV is free and ad-supported, and Susanne indicated that it’s benefiting from advertisers’ strong appetite for premium video. PeopleTV includes pre-rolls and mid-rolls. In connected TV, video rolls into a linear experience with ads placed between segments. There isn’t a PeopleTV dedicated sales team, with sales handled by Time Inc. sellers across its celebrity and entertainment category.
People is among many magazines and print publishers trying to capitalize on video. One clear advantage they have, as Susanne noted, is very deep editorial expertise and libraries of content that can now be used in creating originals. For People this worked well for a recent feature on Princess Diana. No doubt there will be many other opportunities as well. As print publications look for new revenue and better audience engagement, video is a natural path.