Hearst: It's Gonna Work This Time

Deal With Fox to Will Develop TV Programming Unique to the Platform

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Hearst Magazines Editorial Director Ellen Levine says this time, things will be different.

Ellen Levine

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Coming Soon to TV: Your Favorite Mags
Hearst Inks Development Deal With Fox to Turn Popular Titles Into Series

The company's new deal with Fox Television Studios to develop web programs -- and possibly TV shows -- based on magazines isn't like previous agreements that have dared to mix publishing and TV, a combination with a long history of producing unloved offspring.

The Fox Studios plan aims to avoid the fate of past TV misfires such as "Miss Seventeen" (Seventeen magazine meets MTV) or "Sports Illustrated Fresh Faces Competition" (SI meets NBC). That has led the partners to the internet, where readers of Hearst magazines are already catching up on content via those publications' websites.

"We're not going out there and saying, 'We're going to have a one-hour magazine show,'" Ms. Levine said. "We're going to create material for new platforms, not take previously existing material and dust it off for television."

With the print-ad market declining, magazines have looked for ways to maximize their brands online. Ms. Levine said Hearst Magazines' revenue is healthy but needs to adjust to how consumers want their media.

"If you don't follow your audience, you'll perish," she said. "A lot of these give you the opportunity to bring something to life that you can't on the page and give the product a credibility that you wouldn't otherwise have."

Conversations with advertisers for Cosmo Girl and Popular Mechanics web-episodes are still in early stages, she said.

The Fox Studios deal is a small part of Hearst Corp.'s TV business, which includes 29 stations and investments in several cable networks, including ESPN and A&E.

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Mr. Hibberd is a reporter with TelevisionWeek.
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