Tina Brown’s recent forays on the Web and in print have so far had uncertain results. Can she make it on TV? We’ll soon see. Daily Beast TV is getting ready to launch in November.
The venture has been described as an online talk show. A rep for the Newsweek Daily Beast Co. said Daily Beast TV would be a mix of original videos like the “Ask Andrew Anything” feature that Andrew Sullivan launched in September. The rotoscope-style videos feature the Beast blogger answering reader questions like “When did you truly feel American?” and “When will pot be legalized?” It has a raw and spontaneous feel, but it's a departure from the Beast's current video offerings, which consist mainly of repurposed TV news clips from CNN, ABC, and the like.
A house ad in Newsweek’s Oct. 31 issue describes Daily Beast TV as “The smartest take on the day’s most engaging stories.” That sounds not unlike the short-lived Topic A With Tina Brown, where she tried to elevate the TV talk show format with intelligent debate. But it never gained a sizable audience, and Brown reportedly canned it herself in 2005, after two years.
The brains behind Daily Beast TV also are familiar. The executive producer Kathy O’Hearn also created Topic A. She joined the Beast in December from CNN, where she was executive producer for Campbell Brown and Christiane Amanpour's shows. Also working on the Beast TV are Susie Banikarim and David Wharton, both formerly of ABC News.
Other media companies have been chasing TV opportunities lately, with advertiser demand for quality video stronger than ever. Daily Beast TV has lined up Lexus as its launch sponsor; no word on whether future supporters have signed on.
The multimedia play could help the Newsweek Daily Beast Co. as it strives to erase an estimated $30 million that the newsweekly and website combined lost last year. Newsweek’s year-over-year ad pages fell 22 percent in the first nine months of the year. But the ad-page decline lessened in the third quarter, to 10 pecent, according to Publishers Information Bureau. And October is up 10 percent to 81.3 pages, the company rep said.