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Time to debut its own streaming service focused on celeb & pop culture

TechCrunch TechCrunch 5/05/2016 Sarah Perez

There’s been an explosion of niche, over-the-top video streaming services in recent months, as consumers cut the cord with traditional pay TV in favor of videos they can watch at any time on any device. Today, yet another over-the-top service is making its debut – this one from Time, Inc. which is introducing the blandly titled “People/Entertainment Weekly Network.” The name implies what this streaming service will focus on, as it references the company’s top entertainment brands.

Details of the service were announced by Rich Battista, President of the Time Inc. Entertainment and Sports Group and Video, at Time’s annual NewFront presentation in New York.

The company pointed out that People and EW combined have an audience of over 100 million.

The new streaming network will attempt to tap into that audience by offering over 100 hours of original, long-form programming, updated daily, focused on celebrity, pop culture, lifestyle and human interest stories, as well as specials and live event coverage.

This will include translating a number of the two media properties’ content franchises to the service, such as People’s Sexiest Man Alive, Heroes Among Us, World’s Most Beautiful, Half Their Size, EW’s Fall TV Preview, Must List, Reunions, Bullseye and People en Español’s Mas Bellos.

There will also be coverage of awards shows, festivals and premieres.

Parent company Time, Inc. will additionally help to facilitate access to more events, like Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, the Time 100, Essence Festival, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and others. And it will aid in the service’s development by providing production studios, marketing and promotional support, as well as its global ads sales team.

In addition to its 100 hours of original programming, which will grow every day, there will be a library of more than 50 hours of programming available at launch.

The company did not yet unveil how much this new offering would cost or an exact launch date, beyond saying it would arrive “this fall.”

The launch comes at a time when major media companies, networks, and studios are trying to carve out a niche for themselves in the streaming era. As Time pointed out in its announcement of the new network, it’s expected that nearly 200 million connected TVs will be sold in the US by 2020, with weekly consumption of over-the-top (OTT) programming doubling during that time, and ad spending on OTT services projected to reach $40 billion.

However, it’s still unclear if consumers will embrace these numerous, niche services to complement their subscriptions to bigger players in the industry, like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

And the market is massively crowded. There are so many services to choose from today, it’s getting a little ridiculous. Or fantastic, depending on your viewpoint as a cord cutter.

Not only do premium cable TV networks like HBO, Showtime and Starz now offer their own over-the-top offerings, there are also broadcast TV services like CBS’ All Access, genre-focused services for things like comedy (SeeSo), indie movies (Tribeca Shortlist and FilmStruck), children’s programming (Noggin and DisneyLife), and more. Plus you can find original content from creators on services like YouTube Red, Fullscreen and Vimeo. Even golf is available as an over-the-top subscription.

And let’s not forget that Sling TV and Sony’s Vue will soon compete with Hulu with their live TV subscription services.

With a crowded market like this, it could be that Amazon’s strategy to offer these smaller players as optional add-ons to its larger Amazon Video service may the right move. However, at this time, Time’s service is not yet confirmed to be available on Amazon Video. That could change in the future, as Amazon has been picking up add-on streaming services left and right, including as of today, SeeSo.

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