TV Upfront

Conde Nast Intros 30 Web Series, Promises to Pay to Promote Them

Former CW Chief Dawn Ostroff Says the Web Looks Like Early Cable

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There are old media companies doing digital upfronts like CBS Interactive, NBC Digital and Univision. Then there's old media that that still trades mostly in dead trees.

'Elevator Makeover,' from Glamour and Conde Nast
'Elevator Makeover,' from Glamour and Conde Nast

Conde Nast, the publisher of high-gloss magazines from Vogue to GQ, joined the NewFront fray for the first time Wednesday with a presentation in New York on Wednesday, showing clips from a voluminous planned lineup of 30 new shows. Conde showed excerpts from Wired's "Angry Nerd," Glamour's "Single Life" and a serious GQ documentary, "Casualties of the Gridiron," about the injuries plaguing former NFL players.

The NewFronts are a series of pitches by digital publishers seeking TV ad budgets partly by imitating TV's long-running upfronts. And Conde Nast Entertainment chief Dawn Ostroff is no stranger to the upfronts, having done them for years as president of The CW. She said she joined Conde Nast Entertainment, the unit charged with turning the company's magazine brands into video and film properties, for two reasons. First, she saw The CW's young audience migrating to the web. Second, today's web video looks a lot like basic cable did 20 years ago.

Ms. Ostroff and her staff analyzed shows from the early days of cable, she told the crowd on Wednesday. They were short and low-budget, "pretty much like everything you see on the web today," she said. But as advertiser demand grew they got longer to accommodate commercial breaks. Conde's slate features shows that run anywhere from a minute to ten minutes but no longer -- yet. "I think ultimately you will segments getting longer and longer," Ms. Ostroff said.

Paying to Play
But the biggest problem for Conde Nast -- or anyone lobbing content into the swirling abyss -- is how to get any of it seen by viewers. On that front, Conde Nast said that it would match each dollar spent on production with a dollar spent on marketing and promotion.

The company announced distribution partnerships with Yahoo, AOL, Twitter, Dailymotion and Grab Media."You can't just put things up there, especially from a company like Conde Nast that has never been known for video content," Ms. Ostroff said. "We have to tell the consumer that its there."

While Conde Nast doesn't have any inherent advantages on the web, it does have a massive opt-in database of subscribers it can market these new shows to. "You've got these brands that are well-known already," she said. "People know us and know what to expect."

The end game is for all Conde Nast titles to have video slates that relate, somehow, to their magazine brands. Scott Dadich, editor-in-chief of Wired, said video has been integrated into everything the magazine does. "Angry Nerd," for example, is a forum for columnist Chris Baker to stir passions over things like Star Trek and Lord of the Rings. "We have a lot of angry nerds around the office, so we won't suffer for material," he said.

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