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‘Scandal’ Gets Live Recap Aftershow on Time Inc.’s PEN Streaming Network (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 1/23/2017 Todd Spangler
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ABC’s “Scandal” hit political drama now has its own superfan-fed aftershow, launching on Time Inc.’s People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN) free streaming service.

PEN will launch the live “Scandal Superfan Recap: Gladiators Don’t Run” on Thursday, Jan. 26, at 11 p.m. ET, one hour after the conclusion of its season 6 premiere at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT. The 16-episode series will be hosted by Laura Coates (pictured above), CNN legal analyst and former Justice Department federal prosecutor — and self-described “Scandal” megafan — who will be joined each week a new panel of “Scandal” enthusiasts, including editorial staffers from People and Entertainment Weekly.

Time Inc. isn’t partnering directly with ABC or “Scandal” showrunner-creator Shonda Rhimes on the aftershow. (Note that PEN is officially calling it a “recap show,” rather than an “aftershow.”) But the network obviously is supportive of any effort to drive more live viewership in primetime. Time Inc. developed “Scandal Superfan Recap” as a way to tap into the rabid TV fanaticism of its audience (especially EW readers) and their extensive knowledge, said JJ Miller, executive producer, Time Inc.’s Style and Entertainment Group.

“We wanted to do a show that lets them be a participant,” Miller said, adding that the political tenor of “Scandal” now makes the show “very relevant… It’s in the zeitgeist.”

“Scandal Superfan Recap” viewers will be able contribute video reactions to each week’s “Scandal” episode at burst.com/scandal, a feature developed in partnership with mobile-video platform Burst. Coates and the show’s producers also will engage viewers via Twitter and Facebook, weaving user-generated video commentary into the show in near real-time.

While Miller said she would never turn down the opportunity to have Rhimes or “Scandal” stars appear on the show, she said that “we’re trying to stay in our lane” as fan-based programming: “We want to find superfans, people who from the beginning have been writing blogs about ‘Scandal.'”

The aftershow is pegged to run 30 minutes, but Miller said it could stretch up to an hour or more. “The great thing about digital is, if we don’t want to stop the conversation we can keep going,” she said.

During the live airings, Coates will be drinking wine and snacking on popcorn. Producers procured exactly the same Crate & Barrel wineglasses that Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington) uses in the series.

PEN, which Time Inc. launched last September, has exceeded “all benchmarks we gave ourselves” in terms of views, engagement and app downloads, according to Miller, but she declined to provide specific figures.

The internet-distributed network’s most popular shows include “BingeWorthy,” a review of the buzziest TV shows hosted by EW’s Jessica Shaw and Touré (formerly of MSNBC’s “The Cycle”), and “EW: The Show,” hosted by pop-culture journalist Lola Oguinnaike, which keys off features in the mag’s weekly issue. PEN’s lineup of live programming has centered on red-carpet coverage, including from the upcoming SAG Awards on Sunday, Jan. 29, at 8 p.m. ET, in tandem with its broadcast on TNT and TBS.

PEN’s current roster of advertisers includes Geico, Chevy and MillerCoors. Viewers of the “Scandal Superfan Recap” live stream will see a preroll at the start of the live stream and then will not see any additional ads during the live show. When the show is made available on demand, ad breaks will be added to dynamically insert spot from PEN advertisers.

“Scandal Superfan Recap: Gladiators Don’t Run” is produced by Time Inc. from the company’s studios at 225 Liberty Street in lower Manhattan, which is part of the World Financial Center complex. Coates, who is based in Washington, D.C., will travel to NYC to host the show each week.

The PEN live and on-demand programming is available on the web at people.com/PEN and via apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Google Chromecast, Comcast Xfinity, and iOS and Android devices.

The “Scandal” aftershow will be prominently featured on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Xumo homescreens, according to Time Inc. The media company also plans to promote tune-in via its online, print and social properties.

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