At Newfronts, Condé Nast Calls Red Carpet Moments the New Live Sports

The media company also unveiled new partnerships with Formula 1 and NBCUniversal

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Digital media company Condé Nast unveiled a slate of new video programming at its NewFront presentation at Highline Stages in New York this morning, emphasizing its expanded efforts in the world of sports, news and live events.

The company, which houses more than a dozen editorial brands including the New Yorker, GQ, Vogue and Wired, will create 100 new pilot shows and return 235 original digital video series as part of its ongoing effort to expand its video footprint, according to chief revenue officer Pamela Drucker Mann.

“We want to challenge the marketplace to buy the way consumers are consuming, which is horizontally, across multiple touchpoints,” Mann said. “That challenge continues to be our value proposition: we have over 80 products that we can offer individually or as one.”

Condé Nast also announced several key new partnerships, including deals with Formula 1 and NBCUniversal, to expand its reach and finance new editorial franchises.

The suite of new offerings comes one week before the Met Gala, which Vogue covers exclusively and last year generated 1.5 billion global video views, making it a marquee event for the brand. 

This year, both the NewFront presentation and Met Gala will air against a larger backdrop of unrest at Condé Nast. 

The company announced a headcount reduction of around 5% in December, but the cuts have been delayed by ongoing negotiations with the union that represents Condé Nast editorial staff. In recent months, union members have staged protests against several Condé Nast executives and have threatened to walk out during the Met Gala.

Programming focuses on live, sports, lifestyle and news

The success Condé Nast has seen broadcasting its Met Gala coverage has encouraged the media company to further expand its live programming offerings, according to Mann.

In that vein, the company has sought to position the red carpet moments in its cultural calendar, such as the Met Gala, Vogue World and Vanity Fair’s coverage of the Oscars, as the viewing equivalent of live sports. 

Both are scarce commodities; attract a scaled, tuned-in audience; and generate media coverage that extends well beyond the moment itself. These qualities have made live sports precious inventory in the video landscape, and Condé Nast hopes to cast a similar halo around its coverage.

Similarly, the company also announced renewed investment in GQ Sports, which Condé Nast officially unveiled last year. The vertical combines the increasingly interconnected worlds of sports and fashion, and this year inked new partnerships with Formula 1, ESPN and YouTube, according to Mann.

The company also shared its plans for a revamp of Bon Appétit under editor-in-chief Jamila Robinson, who joined the brand in August. The publisher will debut a series of new shows, including Recipe Rewrite, Taste Test and Dining Diaries, as part of an effort to recapture the momentum the brand had in its Test Kitchen heyday. 

The most intriguing new editorial launch came, however, from Wired, whose new editor-in-chief Katie Drummond also joined in August from Vice. 

Under Drummond, Wired will expand its coverage of politics and shift its editorial focus to include more breaking news reporting in the technology space. Both initiatives are designed to drive more engagement for the publisher, but they also risk going against advertisers’ increasingly stringent brand safety filters.

Events maintain their momentum

Last year, Condé Nast unveiled Vogue World at its NewFront, which has since hosted iterations in New York and London. This year, the event will take place in Paris in June.

The success of Vogue World, coupled with the views and engagement driven by the Met Gala and other live events, has encouraged Condé Nast to lean further into original events programming.

As part of that strategy, the company has continued to develop its GQ Men of the Year franchise, alongside Glamour’s Women of the Year event, as key new fixtures in its editorial calendar. 

The tactic is part of a larger bid from the company to create acute cultural moments, and then productize all their downstream coverage.

“We want to take our red carpet formula and apply it to other spaces,” Mann said.