PopSugar Is Making a Bigger Push Into News, Politics and Documentaries

And partnering with Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In

Headshot of Lauren Johnson

For its third appearance at the Digital Content NewFronts, millennial women-focused PopSugar wants to show advertisers it's about more than just lifestyle content.

Today, the publisher unveiled its slate of content, which includes news and political initiatives, scripted comedies, and fashion and beauty shows.

Most notable is PopDocs, the publisher's first foray into documentary filmmaking and long-form reporting. There are initially 32 episodes, with the first 16 stories profiling women who are breaking glass ceilings. The first episode—which launched in March—focuses on ballet dancer Misty Copeland, and future episodes include NBA assistant coach Nancy Lieberman and professional stunt woman Jessie Graff. Chevrolet has signed on as PopDocs' first sponsor.

"Our audience has an insatiable desire to learn more about what's going on in the world," Lindsay Miller, PopSugar's editorial director of video, told a full room of advertising execs at the company's presentation today. "We've noticed a trending spike when it comes to politics and issues that women are facing today, so we're empowering them to get inspired, have a voice and make a difference."

Before the presentation, PopSugar Studios president David Grant told Adweek the length of the videos can vary from feature-length documentaries to short clips tailored for Facebook.

"In some cases, the story could be a 90-minute documentary. It could be a 30-minute piece. It could be a five-minute piece—it's a continuation of our outlook that we have to optimize for every platform. And sometimes the story has to be bigger, and we'll go longer," Grant said.

Additionally, the publisher is teaming up with Sheryl Sandberg's nonprofit LeanIn.org to create a series of short videos on gender equality with digital comedy platform Put Your Pretty On. 

There's also a new political editorial initiative called Know Your Vote featuring coverage of this year's presidential election and a partnership with Rock the Vote aimed at getting 1 million women registered to vote this year.

PopSugar is also pitching advertisers on wellness and comedy content like it has the past couple of years.

Two years ago, PopSugar started working with Above Average—which is part of the production company behind Saturday Night Live, Broadway Video—to present a sitcom called Seriously Distracted. Now, PopSugar is partnering with Broadway Video's Latino-focused Más Mejor on a new series called Cooking Rodriguez about a character named Penelope who aspires to be a YouTube host while cooking her grandmother's Cuban recipes.

Another scripted comedy called Every Mom is a joint venture between PopSugar and The Onion. The story follows a popular mom influencer who turns out to be a single, 27-year-old guy from Brooklyn, N.Y. 

It will also launch a new channel called Glow that focuses on health and wellness coverage and is being primarily built on Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram.

There's Instagram-only video programming, too. PopSugar's e-commerce platform ShopStyle is launching its first original series called Lens by ShopStyle that will shoot fashion influencers and women and live solely on Instagram.

Like most publishers these days, PopSugar is also playing with Facebook Live. Live video is a formula Grant has struggled with in the past, but he told Adweek he's confident that this time, it's going to work on Facebook.

A few years ago, PopSugar tried producing a daily half-hour program on its website, but producing a full-blown show every day and getting people to tune in consistently was tough.

"I was taking what is the best thing on the web—to see stuff whenever you want—and make you see it at noon," Grant told Adweek before PopSugar's NewFronts presentation. "To this day, I look back and say, 'I don't know what I was thinking.'"

Unlike the website version that required folks to remember to visit the website at a specific time, Grant is bullish on Facebook because the site automatically pushes out notifications as soon as a publisher begins broadcasting.

Since launching its Facebook show, PopSugar Rush, a year ago, the publisher's video views on the platform have jumped 452 percent.

"With Facebook, it liberates us in that it's so easy to go live," Grant said. "It's not going to be glossy. It's going to be authentic, and people are going to get to go with us when we do something interesting."


@laurenjohnson lauren.johnson@adweek.com Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.