At NewFronts, It's The Publishers Embracing OTT

Over-the-top video is something of a hot topic now, with streaming bundles of content continuing to proliferate, and legacy TV companies being joined by startups in trying to launch their own streaming products.

Yet, during NewFronts week, it was publishers that introduced dedicated OTT content. 

At its presentation, held in the cavernous living room of an apartment near One World Trade Center, Condé Nast announced three new OTT channels (the apartment, if you are interested, is currently for sale, for $60 million).

Later this year, the company will launch an OTT channel for Wired, with channels for Bon Appetit and GQ to follow. They will live on connected TV devices, starting with Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV devices and Roku boxes.

“[The OTT channels present the] opportunity to reach connected audiences through ad placements and series integrations,” said Condé Nast Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Pamela Drucker Mann at the event.

“While consumers have more screens and more content to choose from than ever before, advertisers face the challenge of less buyable options,” Drucker Mann said, referencing Condé Nast's "brand safety and influence... our new OTT expansion is significant because it brings the quality of Condé Nast to next-gen consumers on new platforms, and in new ways.”

At the female-focused digital publisher Refinery29, OTT was also the big story, with the company planning a streaming channel for launch in the fourth quarter called “Channel29.”

Details were scarce on Channel29, although it will be free and ad-supported and will feature live and on-demand content featuring “young, progressive female stories,” COO Sarah Personette said, according to Publisher’s Daily.

Meredith Corp., the publisher of titles like People magazine and Better Homes & Gardens, also featured OTT at its NewFront on Thursday morning.

Meredith was most interested in bulking up its main OTT channel: PeopleTV.

PeopleTV launched in late 2016, but is in the process of adding new programs as it seeks carriage on bundles of streaming content, starting with FuboTV.

On Thursday, Meredith announced a new show called “Search History,” hosted by comedian Michelle Collins, in which she will peruse the phones of unsuspecting bystanders. It also announced “Chatter,” a live talk show hosted by actress Rosie Diaz that will air live on PeopleTV and on Twitter.

Like Condé Nast, Meredith touted the brand safety of its video environments, and announced a Video Sales Guarantee backed by Nielsen.

As traditional TV players expand their wares to digital, and as more ad dollars overall shift to video, publishers remain stuck somewhere in the middle. If this NewFronts week is any indication, however, they are beginning to turn to OTT as a means of moving their businesses forward.

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