EXCLUSIVE: Barely a year after Meredith Corp. closed its $2.8 billion acquisition of Time Inc., one of the biggest jewels in that crown is entering the daily syndicated TV market through a synergistic new effort.
People, which already has an ad-supported streaming app and a weekend TV show, will mount a daily syndicated half-hour in the fall of 2020, Deadline has learned. The initial rollout will be on all 17 local TV stations owned by Meredith, which reach 11% of the country and cover large markets like Atlanta, Phoenix, St. Louis, Portland, OR, and Nashville.
The weeknight program then plans to seek additional clearances on stations beyond Meredith’s footprint, depending on the initial performance of the show.
While the realm of red-carpet-centric showbiz shows is hardly an open field, with Entertainment Tonight and Extra two of the mainstays and the more gossip-oriented TMZ and Page Six have also carved out space, People’s entrant promises to be a bit different. The show will bring a range of elements from the media brand to TV viewers, including entertainment news, exclusive interviews, features, beauty and crime. The show will be produced by Four M Studios, Meredith’s in-house production company.
“This will be another first for People,” said Bruce Gersh, president of People, Entertainment Weekly and Four M Studios, in announcing the move. “People is a cultural force, and this is a natural extension of one of the most trusted brands in media. The Meredith Local Media Group has been an incredible partner and we are thrilled to be able to bring premium programming to local audiences and People consumers around the country.”
The group currently airs a 30-minute weekend show, People Now Weekend, which will continue to air after the daily show arrives.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the success that People Now Weekend has had on Meredith’s local television stations,” said Patrick McCreery President, Meredith Local Media Group. “Since we launched People Now Weekend in our 12 markets in June, we have seen unparalleled success. It’s clear our audiences want entertainment and celebrity news, and we are excited that we can offer the programming they want and it’s produced by the trusted People brand.”
Four M Studios, formerly known as Time Inc. Productions, launched in 2016. It develops shows that tap the equity of Meredith brands like Better Homes & Gardens, InStyle and Real Simple, but also goes beyond the walls of the company. The division won an Emmy in 2017 for A Year in Space, which aired on PBS, and has had shows on air or in development at ABC, Apple, Netflix, Paramount Network, Fox, A&E, Investigation Discovery and other networks.
Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith closed its purchase of Time Inc. in February 2018, ending an era that helped define 20th century magazine publishing and media. The company has since sold off Time and Fortune and is reported to be shopping Sports Illustrated, in keeping with initial forecasts of a tighter focus on female-skewing lifestyle brands.