Condé Nast Pledges More “Inclusive Programming,” Reveals Influence Plan, Podcast Network, NBA-GQ Team-Up & More In Virtual NewFront

Anna Wintour, Conde Nast artistic director, arriving at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Benefit in 2018. Andrew H Walker/Shutterstock

Looking to persevere through a period of intense scrutiny, especially of its video operation, Condé Nast introduced several new offerings for advertisers Tuesday in a virtual NewFronts presentation.

The media company announced a new content and Nielsen-measured offering called The Influence Network; a branded podcast network; and a teaming between GQ and the NBA Players Association. A new option for advertisers, Prime Live, will offer “exclusive ownership” of Condé Nast cultural moments like the Vanity Fair Oscar Red Carpet and Vogue’s Met Gala, the company said. A related service called Prime Shoppable will aim to connect audiences directly with purchase opportunities.

Along with those efforts, the company pledged to provide “a platform for new voices, diverse content and inclusive programming that is more representative of multicultural audiences and communities.”

Condé Nast has been in turmoil in recent weeks as its Bon Appétit brand entered a crisis. Adam Rapoport resigned as Bon Appétit editor-in-chief after a photo of him in brownface surfaced during an outcry from staffers over race-based pay inequity and skewed video optics prompted an unusually self-flagellating statement.

Media reports have also cast a harsh spotlight on the long-untouchable Anna Wintour, who was one of the stars of the company’s 2019 NewFronts presentation. Now Condé’s artistic director, she issued an apology this month for any “hurtful or intolerant” conduct during her 32-year run as Vogue editor-in-chief.

During its NewFront, Condé Nast also showcased its 2020-21 programming slate, which includes more than 150 digital videos pilots. Having gained traction with the rise of streaming, Condé Nast cited Nielsen data in asserting that its programming has reached 22 million viewers who were not watching broadcast or cable TV. Branded channel launches have targeted platforms like Roku, Vizio, Pluto. It has also leveraged its properties across TV and streaming networks, podcasting and film.

Roger Lynch, who became CEO of Condé Nast last year, came from executive stints at Dish Network and Pandora. At Dish, Lynch launched and ran the company’s internet-delivered TV bundle, Sling TV.

“In a rapidly changing environment, our advertisers are looking for a trusted partner that can deliver flexibility, new incremental audiences and measurable performance,” said Pam Drucker Mann, Global Chief Revenue Officer and President, U.S. Revenue in a press release. “Our influence network answers those needs with quality content environments, brand channels with unparalleled engagement, and access to exclusive cultural touchstones that only we can own.”

Condé Nast said its video network last year saw a 60% rise on its owned and operated platforms and a 61% increase in watch time on YouTube.

The company also reiterated its intent to provide more inclusive content, pointing to several projects spearheaded by GQ Sports.

“Condé Nast has always led the cultural conversation,” said programming SVP Reggie Williams. “Now more than ever, I believe in the power of our media to affect change, and video and audio have crucial roles to play in that transformation.”

The NBA initiative with GQ Sports intends to launch a premium series for a streaming service and four digital shows with the NBA’s top talent. The programming will debut with Training My Double, a new series in which athletes work with lucky fans to show them what it’s like to be players, including their roles as entrepreneurs, educators and activists. The series will be directed exclusively by Black filmmakers.

GQ Sports is also programming more than 15 shows for the 2020-21 season, showcasing fan-favorite blockbusters like My Essentials and One-on-One, alongside new several new series:

Here are highlights of Condé Nast’s 57 returning  shows, more than 150 new digital pilots and 50 new social series, with descriptions provided by the company:

  • In Architectural Digest’s new IGTV show AD Visits, editor-in-chief Amy Astley leads the conversation on design today, talking with top talent and going inside the homes of some of the world’s most fascinating personalities, all shared exclusively with AD’s Instagram audience of nearly 6 million.

  • GQ’s new weekly style talk show, The Run Through, is hosted by editors Nikki Ogunnaike, Mobolaji Dawodu and Jon Tietz, who convene weekly to cover the latest fashion news and all their opinions, chat with celeb friends about fashion, and answer audience-submitted questions.

  • Pitchfork’s Critical Breakthroughs sits down with musicians to learn more about the creative process they undergo while developing their sound and recording their biggest hits.

  • Self magazine’s “Hour by Hour” follows fitness professionals through 24 hours of their everyday lives, including their quarantine routines.

  • Vogue’s “Heroes” facilitates a conversation between a celebrity and someone they’ve always wanted to meet, placing the celebrity in the interviewer’s chair.

  • Vogue’s new weekly series, “Vegan Cooking with Tabitha Brown”, gives audiences a look into the host’s everyday life, including fun and delicious takes on vegan cooking.

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