Condé Nast, taking the sharpest aim at linear TV of any of the NewFronts presenters thus far, styled itself as the “new primetime” destination for media buyers during its Tuesday afternoon pitch at the newly opened Hudson Yards.
“We’re the new Thursday night, and we’re always on,” declared Pamela Drucker Mann, chief revenue and marketing officer of Condé Nast. The event made liberal use of mid-20th century iconography of TV sets with rabbit ears but sought to emphasize how the stable of brands like Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ and The New Yorker has replaced the traditional linear lions of the broadcast world.
The choice of venue was not insignificant: Mercado Little Spain, a sprawling Spanish food market on the base level of 10 Hudson Yards, one of the new towers along the High Line on Manhattan’s West Side, along the Hudson River. Two doors down, at 30 Hudson Yards (what some brave locals have dubbed “HuYa,” though time will tell if that sticks) is the new home of WarnerMedia.
Condé Nast unveiled an impossible-to-document 175 pilots and 50 returning shows that it labeled as “blockbusters.” Among the new initiatives are the launch of a GQ spots channel, a partnership with Twitter and new ad products that leverage the influence of the company’s portfolio for advertising partners. Mann also announced a tie-up with Nielsen, further cementing the effort to take the place of TV. The Twitter partnership will bring to the social network live streams of the company’s conferences, including Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit, The New Yorker Festival and Wired25.
One show that got a plug during the event was “Ask Anna.” The fast-paced, 45-minute show took a few minutes out to replicate the Vogue editor’s office and bring her onstage to field a couple of questions from the audience. Among the grab-bag topics the segment touched on was politics. She gave an approving mention of Democratic candidate Pete Buttiegieg, but cautioned that it was “not an endorsement.”
Condé Nast painted a picture of collective strength, noting that its digital videos racked up 14 billion digital video views in 2018, with global video views up 16% over 2017.
Roger Lynch, former head of Dish Network’s internet-delivered TV bundle Sling, recently joined Condé Nast as CEO and is managing through a restructuring as the company’s international and domestic operations are combined. Video, clearly, appears to the be the tip of the spear.
“While there’s more content in the market today than ever before, a new scarcity has emerged — a scarcity of great content,” Mann said in the company’s official slate announcement. “We’re reaching net new audiences you can’t reach on television, or any one platform — we are the new primetime, uniquely positioned to connect our advertisers with one billion consumers around the world.”
Oren Katzeff, who replaced Dawn Ostroff as head of Condé Nast Entertainment last year, noted the company has seen that longform content (episodes lasting 20 minutes or longer) draws the most views of anything the company serves up. Overall longform efforts have gained momentum of late, with a feature adaptation of Wired‘s article about wayward tech pioneer John McAfee in the works, starring Michael Keaton and Seth Rogen. The company also produced The Old Man and the Gun, starring Robert Redford.
Among the other digital series in the pipeline are Vanity Fair’s “The Great Pretender,” Allure’s “Seeing Triple,” Condé Nast Traveler’s “Say I Sent You” and Architectural Digest’s “Pop Culture Design Breakdown.”
Condé Nast recently announced the launch of Bon Appétit’s new streaming TV channel, with programming that features fan-favorite personalities from the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen. Viewers are spending more than 56 minutes per session watching the content.