Hearst’s New Content Platform Is Part News Feed, Part Art Installation

HearstLive will show stories from hundreds of brands in Manhattan

As the owner of Cosmopolitan, Elle and Esquire, Hearst is known for its globally-recognized media brands. But for its latest content play, the company is keeping things close to home. On Sept. 27, the publisher is set to debut HearstLive, a new multimedia installation that will display curated content from the company's 360-plus brands and partners on more than 100 feet of LED screens in the windows of Hearst Tower in Manhattan.

"Ten years ago, Hearst Tower made history as the city's first occupied green skyscraper. As we approach this anniversary, we are proud to be the first to build an LED 'sculpture' merging news, information and entertainment," said Hearst President and CEO Steven R. Swartz.

Created with the help of digital agency Code + Theory, HearstLive is part content platform, part digital canvas. Every day, a team of dedicated editors will select a mix of content from Hearst-owned and affiliated brands, including fashion and lifestyle features (think Fashion Week highlights from Harper's Bazaar or a celebrity interview from Cosmopolitan), magazine cover reveals, live news from local Hearst TV stations and newspapers, social media feeds (which will be collected in a dedicated feature called BrandCentral) and videos from outlets like A+E Networks, ESPN, Vice and BuzzFeed (all of which count Hearst as an investor). Content will typically be refreshed each morning, afternoon and evening for a total of around 100 different stories per week. Editors will also have the option to cut in with live updates if there is breaking news.

To display this content, Hearst had hardware company Activate the Space build huge screens containing more than 1,300 custom-engineered LED modules (or 7 million individual LEDs) and install them behind the windows of Hearst Tower's street-level retail space at the corner of 8th Avenue and West 57th Street. Passersby can access and share the stories they've seen onscreen by visiting HearstLive.com, which will show a livestream of all HearstLive content.

For Hearst, this is a major investment to make for a platform that will mostly live in a single location. But the publisher and its partners are betting that it'll pay off by bringing some IRL brand awareness to the more than quarter million people who pass by Hearst Tower every weekday. "So much of our audience is on mobile and online platforms, but there's something special, unique and unexpected about engaging with such great content at the street level," A+E Networks president and CEO Nancy Dubuc said in a statement. "Hearst makes smart investments and partnerships across important industries, and HearstLive is the perfect opportunity to highlight the amazing innovations coming out of all of those brands."

Take a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of HearstLive: