Essence Mag Uses Some Synergy to Turn Past Printed Page

Parent Time Inc., Warner Bros. to Develop TV, Digital Series

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NEW YORK ( -- Two Time Warner divisions -- Time Inc. and Warner Bros. -- are teaming up to take a print brand more firmly into other media venues, just one more sign of how the walls between different kinds of media distribution are fast crumbling.
Warner Bros. will use its expertise in video entertainment to help Time Inc. extend its Essence magazine into the web and TV.
Warner Bros. will use its expertise in video entertainment to help Time Inc. extend its Essence magazine into the web and TV.

Warner Bros., best known for its expertise with video entertainment, and Time Inc., the large magazine publisher, have agreed to work together to take Time Inc.'s Essence magazine and extend it into the web and TV. Already in the works, according to the two parties, is a relaunch of in late summer that aims to turn the website into a daily destination for African-American women. The Time Warner units will use the site as a place to launch video programming.

Marketers demand content
"Our advertisers, they want more. The P&Gs, J&Js, L'Oreals and General Motors, they are asking for more content and more video content from us," said Michelle Ebanks, president-Essence Communications Inc. "It helps them create a deeper connection with audiences that they value."

The two companies say they believe the number of African-American internet users is set to grow to 25 million in 2011, up from 19.6 million in 2006.

The collaboration also offers an indication that media outlets must change their stripes. Few can be satisfied with just distributing content in one venue -- print, video, online -- and instead must strive to offer more. As this team-up suggests, getting from one type of media to another often requires outside help.

Warner Bros.' Telepictures will partner with Essence to develop content and incubate material for potential TV series and digital properties. On tap: an original digital series for hosted by Tamika Ray, a correspondent and weekend co-anchor for the daily TV program "Extra." The show will be called "Extra on Essence," and Ms. Ray will also have a wider presence on that could involve other hosting duties as well as blogging. Meanwhile, "Extra" will also contribute news that will be featured in Essence's entertainment section regularly.

Telepictures also produces the buzz-y gossip site and TV show TMZ and recently launched an online destination for mothers called

For its part, Essence has been dabbling in multimedia programming in recent months, having developed a marriage-proposal contest called "Will You Marry Me," as well as an interactive online reality dating show "30 Dates in 30 Days." Last August, Essence launched a unit devoted to original programming that can be distributed via the web, mobile devices, video on demand and TV.
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