A&E to Air Hearst-Branded Content on Its Networks, Advertisers in Tow

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Hearst Tower in New York.
Hearst Tower in New York. Credit: Stephen Hilger/Bloomberg News
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The TV-publisher love-affair isn't over yet. A&E Networks and Hearst Magazines Digital Media are partnering to run Hearst-produced branded videos on A&E's cable networks and digital properties.

As part of the deal, marketers will be able to work with the digital divisions of Hearst magazines like Cosmopolitan and Elle to air content during commercial breaks on Lifetime or A&E, for example. They will also be able to get access to so-called "enthusiast" blocks, or hours of themed content, on A&E's networks.

Hearst Magazines Digital Media could run a video on a fashion trend from Elle during a fashion-themed block of programming on Lifetime, for example, and combine it with a 15-second spot from a fashion retailer.

"It's such a crowded, noisy landscape," said Peter Olsen, exec VP-national ad sales, A&E Networks. "There are so many new shows and premieres and part of this is we have to try things that are different and put things into a different context than you are use to seeing."

There will be a mix of custom content created in conjunction with Hearst Magazines Digital Media and pieces of content created by one of the publisher's titles that's simply sponsored by an advertiser, Mr. Olsen said.

A&E Networks is in talks with potential advertisers but has not signed any deals yet.

The partnership will broaden the distribution of the branded content that Hearst Magazines Digital Media is already creating for marketers, which currently lives on its own sites and on social platforms, to also include cable TV.

"What our brands can do is help make TV advertising more interesting," said Todd Haskell, senior VP-chief revenue officer, Hearst Magazines Digital Media. "We have content that is already compelling for consumers."

It also creates an opportunity for Hearst Magazines Digital Media to strike deals with new clients that are traditionally core TV advertisers, Mr. Haskell said.

"I believe the print titles … have a little more of an authoritative voice with their fans than the typical TV brands," Mr. Olsen said.

While people may be fans of Lifetime, they are fans more of the shows and talent, Mr. Olsen said.

"There's something interesting about the power and authority of these print titles placed in our linear ecosystem," Mr. Olsen added.

A&E Networks launched so-called "enthusiasts" blocks of programming this summer, dedicated hours where they typically aired reruns to themed programming. The goal is to "reinvent non-prime time blocks that are more interesting than a place where you run a bunch of repeats," Mr. Olsen said. Yeti sponsored an outdoor adventure block on History and the company is exploring other such blocks of programming dedicated to passion points like parenting, home and health and wellness.

A&E Networks would consider other types of similar partnerships in the future, Mr. Olsen said, adding that having a pre-existing relationship helps. Hearst, the parent of the magazine unit, owns a 50% stake in A&E Networks along with Walt Disney.

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