NowThis to Launch Education Series With Actress Allison Williams

Hires former MTV CMO as first marketing chief

NowThis, the 4-year-old news and entertainment digital video service, has tapped a news progeny for a new series. Allison Williams, star of Girls and daughter of MSNBC news anchor Brian Williams, will take part in a multi-episode series about education called Edify.

NowThis president Athan Stephanopoulos, on the job for five months, has done the research and revealed that education content "hit a chord with our demographic."

NowThis boldly proclaims on its homepage that it doesn't have a homepage—"even the word sounds old," the site states. Instead, publishes all its short-form videos directly to Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat's Discover channel.

At its first NewFronts presentation, at New York's New Museum Thursday night, Stephanopoulos explained to ad buyers how, even now, the digital media industry is "changing at light speed." After all, it was that rapid change that led former Huffington Post executives Ken Lerer and Eric Hippeau to found the company, first known as NowThisNews, in 2012.

"A lot of people mention these changes to induce fear and say to you 'Trust us with your advertising budgets—we'll help you navigate these uncharted territories,'" he said. "We're not scared of these changes; we don't think you should be either."

NowThis recently hired former MTV CMO Tina Exarhos as its first head of marketing, and says it gets more than 1.6 billion views a month and 8 billion monthly impressions.

In addition to the Williams news, NowThis announced it will produce music series Jam Sesh and launch a female empowerment Facebook page called NowThisWomen.

Williams was not on hand, but her husband, Ricky Van Veen, was there to introduced a clip of Edify. As the co-founder of CollegeHumor, Van Veen has seen his share of digital media companies crop up over the years.

"It's refreshing to team up with a media company that cares so much about the well-being of our nation's youth," Williams said in a statement. "They have two things that matter to me: heart and access."