Us Weekly Launches Celebrity Channel On Veoh
Launching formally next month, the channel will let users watch videos from celebrity parties and Us Weekly events and news stories on both Veoh and Usmagazine.com. Visitors will also be able to upload their own videos to the magazine site and Veoh's Celebrity Channel.
Former Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner, whose Tornante Company is a major investor in Veoh, helped forge the deal with Us Weekly owner Wenner Media. "The Michael Eisner-Jann Wenner connection was important," said Janice Min, Us Weekly's editor in chief. Eisner and Disney helped stabilize a struggling Us Weekly in 2001 by taking a 50% stake in the magazine for $40 million. Min said Eisner came to the magazine's offices in August to begin negotiating the agreement with Veoh.
In contrast to the proliferation of user-generated material online, Min noted that Usmagazine.com and its companion Veoh channel would feature professionally produced video and other content geared to its core audience of women in their 20s and 30s. That includes video of celebrity Q & A sessions at Us, backstage footage of celebrity photo shoots and Us critics discussing hot new movies or TV shows.
"Photos are such an important part of Us Weekly and this is just completing the loop on images that our readers are used to seeing," said Min. Along with providing most of the video content, the magazine will retain editorial control over the user-submitted clips. "No one can post without an editor overseeing it," said Min.
With their new venture, Us Weekly and Veoh are taking on a slew of celebrity-oriented competitors online including TMZ.com, Gawker and PerezHilton as well as viral video heavyweight YouTube. Veoh has attempted to differentiate itself from bigger video rivals by allowing users to upload videos of any length and create their own virtual channels. But Veoh currently has only a fraction of YouTube's traffic, with 357,000 unique visitors in December, according to comScore Media Metrix.
Launched last September, Usmagazine.com is also hoping to boost its traffic with a heavier emphasis on celebrity videos. The site attracted 640,000 unique visitors in December, according to comScore. So far, advertising on the site consists mainly of Google AdSense ads, although Min expects more and more varied types of advertising to appear in the coming months. The partnership between Us and Veoh includes an ad revenue-sharing agreement, although specifics of the arrangement were not disclosed.
The deal follows on the heels of Veoh joining forces last week with United Talent Agency to launch a branded channel to identify new talent online. That new channel will also launch next month.