By Sahil Patel
Perhaps recognizing that after 16 official NewFronts presentations (and a few unofficial ones), media buyers might not want to sit through another dog-and-pony show, News Corp did something different this year. The company, which owns news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and Storyful, erected interactive sets to preview all of the different series it plans to make for those and other properties.
“Our core mission is to always bring news, information, analysis, and inspiration to people,” said News Corp CEO Robert Thomson in the video presentation. “Video and digital platforms are integral to achieving that mission.”
For The Wall Street Journal, News Corp announced four new series, including one expansive project from the publication’s native ad studio WSJ Custom Studios.
“The Fixer,” hosted by Michael Hsu, is a short-form series that will focus on everyday, lifestyle-inspired “life hacks,” and is targeted for younger WSJ readers and viewers. “#TheShortAnswer” is an explainer series that will inform viewers about trending topics and news stories. It will be hosted by WSJ reporter Jason Bellini. “WSJD Tech” will focus on personal tech. Hosted by Geoffrey Fowler and Joanna Stern, the series will review the latest gadgets and focus on how technology is impacting lives.
WSJ Custom Studios is producing “Americana,” described as the “ultimate anthology of American capitalism, highlighting 400 years of economics and entrepreneurship.” The project spans 40 short films, with each film focusing on a different thing that shaped American culture — from cotton to baseball.
News Corp also showcased several series from The Post Digital Network, which includes the New York Post, Page Six, Decider.com, and IAF.
Post series include “Surreal Estate,” which will go inside rich homes to see what type of things rich people buy. The series will be hosted by the Post’s real-estate columnist Jennifer Gould Keil. “Do What You Love” will spotlight people who have unusual careers, from a blimp operator to someone who gets shot out of a cannon. “Here to Help” is a comedy advice series in which an expert and a comedian both answer questions submitted by users.
Post Digital Network’s Decider.com has a series called “Streamline,” which airs weekly on the website and on its Roku app. Hosted by columnist Meghan O’Keefe, the series offers Decider’s five picks for what to stream every week.
IAF (short for: Internet Action Force) is the name of a team of writers, comedians, and producers who create videos around trending news and other relevant topics. News Corp is offering advertisers the chance to create custom content with IAF, or run ads against original and licensed shorts distributed by the group.
That’s not the only custom content opportunity from the Post portfolio. Post Studios, a team of writers, designers, strategists, and producers, according to News Corp, can create digital and social content for advertisers, spanning video, mobile, print, and experiential formats.
Post Studios also creates its own original programming, which is sponsorable. These series include: “One More Night,” where musicians of today pay tribute to the artists that inspired them by performing at legendary music venues; and
“Blockumentaries,” which spotlights the cultural histories of different and influential city and town blocks around the country.
News Corp also owns Storyful, a social news service that specializes in finding, verifying, and distributed user-generated clips to news companies and advertisers. The service pitched its ability to find the right type of social content — whether it’s video or photo — for advertisers based on their brand and campaign needs.
Other video options presented to advertisers include Mansion, its new real-estate website focused on rich homes, and Realtor.com, its real-estate site for regular people. Both sites offer video related to news and listings.
Vice Media is all about TV right now.
“We took what we were doing online and went to the gold standard of TV, which is HBO, and we won an Emmy,” said Shane Smith, founder and CEO of Vice, near the beginning of its second ever NewFront. He, of course, is referring to the successful run of the “Vice News” documentary series on HBO, which has led to a multi-year deal to produce more news programming for the premium cable network.
Now, Vice wants to do the same with its other verticals. While not outright announcing it, Vice introduced a slate of shows it’s currently producing for its TV network — which is rumored to be a rebrand of Vice investor A+E Networks’ H2 channel.
In total, Vice said it has 20 shows planned for its network, and has started shooting eight of them. They include: “Vice Portraits with Marc Maron,” in which the comedian interviews important guests; “Black Market with Michael K. Williams,” in which “The Wire” actor documents and explores the world of black-market car thieves first hand; and “Gaycation,” in which actress Ellen Page travels the world to explore and uncover LGBT issues.
Vice verticals Noisey (for music) and “Motherboard (about science and technology) will also get their own self-titled documentary TV series.
“Fuck, That’s Delicious,” a food and interview web series hosted by chef-turned-rapper Action Bronson, will also graduate to TV on the new Vice network. Other TV shows include “Weediquette” (focusing on issues related to marijuana) and “Fashion Week International” (pretty self-explanatory).
It’s likely that these series will debut along with the Vice channel in 2016, though not confirmed by the company during the event itself.
It was a quick presentation — which was more than welcome — followed by an after-event that included a performance from Action Bronson and food by Eddie Huang.
Now, time for sleep.