Time Inc bets on video for new revenue

NEW YORK • The clock is ticking for Time Inc to boost its income.

The publisher of magazines including People and Sports Illustrated is turning to the Internet to distribute its growing cache of video material and television shows as part of a plan to counter declining print advertising revenue.

The move shows that even the largest traditional publishing companies can no longer ignore the power of video to attract younger viewers.

Time is planning to launch a new streaming cooking competition show, Homemade Vs The Internet, later this year on Facebook's new video service.

The publisher has also inked deals for its longer TV programming to streaming services Netflix, DirecTV Now and others, as well as traditional broadcasters PBS and the Oprah Winfrey Network, said Mr Ian Orefice, its head of programming.

The company plans to produce about 40 hours of TV programming this year to be licensed to 12 broadcast, cable and digital networks, up from just five hours in 2014.

Time, spun off from Time Warner in 2014, does not have much choice in trying to diversify revenue. Earlier this month, it said its revenue tumbled 10 per cent, hit by declines in advertising and circulation.

Time said it can produce lower- cost content if it sticks to topics covered by its magazine brands.

For instance, The Story Of Diana, its two-night documentary about the life of Princess Diana which aired on ABC last month, was produced in part by pulling content from People magazine's archive of photos, magazine spreads and videos.

Conde Nast, one of Time's biggest competitors in the magazine industry, has a head start.

The publishing house founded an entertainment division in 2011 to produce video for Netflix and networks such as Investigation Discovery using content from Conde Nast's brands, including Vogue and Vanity Fair.

Time has about 75 TV and long- form projects in development, an increase from last year. These include a sports documentary and a feature-length documentary, said Mr Orefice.

The company declined to comment on how much money it thinks it will make from its video content.

In its push to put original video content on its platform, Facebook will pay US$10,000 (S$13,600) to US$35,000 for shorter shows between five and 10 minutes long, sources told Reuters in May.

Time has already gained some traction with its TV content.

The second part of its Princess Diana documentary landed in the top 25 most-viewed shows for the week ending Aug 13, according to Nielsen data.

Mr Orefice also said Time's video viewership has increased each quarter over the last 10 quarters.

But, even with growth in viewership, it will take time to be meaningful in Time's earnings, said Mr Douglas Arthur, an analyst at Huber Research Partners.

"I don't see financial daylight until 2019 or 2020. It's a long way out," he added.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2017, with the headline 'Time Inc bets on video for new revenue'. Print Edition | Subscribe