Last September, Time Inc. made a significant investment in video content when it launched the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN), a free, ad-supported OTT network. The investment has thus far paid off: the networked has generated more than two million downloads and in 2017 there have been 100 million views of the network’s content across all platforms.
Still, standing out among an increasingly crowded field of competitors is no easy task, so Time Inc. earlier this month announced that it is rebranding the network as PeopleTV. The network’s content investments moving forward will play off of the iconic brand’s editorial talent and entertainment coverage.
The rebranded network made its first big splash at the Emmys, where it was a presenting sponsor of the 11th Annual “Evening Before,” benefiting the Motion Picture & Television Fund. Coverage also included “People & Entertainment Weekly Emmys Red Carpet Live,” hosted by PEOPLE Deputy Editor, JD Heyman, and host of PeopleTV’s “Entertainment Weekly: The Show,” Lola Ogunnaike.
On the original content front, the network is debuting shows like “Shelf Life,” “Family Portrait, “Paws & Claws,” and “Sizing Up the Dress,” that will appeal to fans of the namesake magazine. This new programming will join existing favorites like “Fan Forum LIVE: Survivor” season two and “The Jess Cagle Interview.”
For more on PeopleTV, the network’s rebranding, and how it will stand out in the OTT space, we spoke with Susanne Mei, General Manager, PeopleTV:
Found Remote: What does the rebranding signify about PeopleTV’s direction?
Susanne Mei: Staying true to Time Inc.’s quality storytelling across its brands, PeopleTV is a platform extension which continues to offer trusted, premium content. While leveraging the legendary PEOPLE name, our short and long-form programming encompasses the very essence of our iconic brand portfolio. Our free, on-demand content is easily accessible whenever, wherever.
FR: What are some of the most encouraging milestones that PEN/PeopleTV hit a year into the venture?
Mei: Over the past year, our network has seen significant growth, and with two million downloads since launch and 100 million video views this year alone, we have built and retained a solid fan-base. We’re continuing to fuel this momentum by greenlighting new series and specials, renewing fan favorites, strengthening our current series and, overall, positioning ourselves for another successful year.
FR: The competition in the original content and OTT space continues to become more fierce – not only from direct competitors like Conde Nast and Hearst, but also from Apple and Facebook. How will PeopleTV stand out?
Mei: PeopleTV is more than simply an OTT platform. Time Inc. is a trusted media company which, for decades, has been on the frontlines reporting on the world’s biggest headlines across news, politics, entertainment, sports and more. Mining the power of this legacy media company and capitalizing on its authentic storytelling, PeopleTV grants you exclusive, insider access to the biggest live events, in-depth celebrity interviews, beloved cast reunions and so much more.
FR: How are advertisers used to working with Time via print and digital taking advantage of these new opportunities?
Mei: For advertisers, this is a new way for them to engage with our audience in a premium, video environment. Advertisers can trust that PeopleTV will be a safe environment for their brands.
FR: How will PeopleTV continue to leverage Time’s editorial talent?
Mei: Time Inc.’s editorial talent, across our brands, will continue to be front and center on PeopleTV. Going straight to the top, our one-on-one, in-depth celebrity interview series, “The Jess Cagle Interview,” is hosted by PEOPLE’s Editor-in-Chief and “Dirty Laundry” is hosted by InStyle’s Editor-in-Chief, Laura Brown. For our most recent live special, JD Heyman (PEOPLE Deputy Editor) was on the carpet in Los Angeles co-hosting “People and Entertainment Weekly Emmys Red Carpet Live,” alongside Lola Ogunnaike (host of PeopleTV’s “Entertainment Weekly: The Show”). Simultaneously, live in our New York studio were commentators, Andrea Lavinthal (PEOPLE Style and Beauty Director), Kahlana Barfield Brown (InStyle Editor-at-Large), Jessica Shaw and Touré (co-hosts of PeopleTV’s “Bingeworthy”), and anchors Jeremy Parsons and Andrea Boehlke (co-hosts of PeopleTV’s “People NOW”).