Monday, April 09, 2007

Hearst to Turn Magazines Into Webisodes, TV Series

Coming Soon to TV: Your Favorite Mags

Hearst Inks Development Deal With Fox to Turn Popular Titles Into Series

NEW YORK ( -- Fox Television Studios and Hearst Magazines are joining forces to create series for broadband and eventually network TV based on popular magazine titles.

The development deal includes two initial webisode projects inspired by CosmoGirl and Popular Mechanics.

The development deal includes two initial webisode projects inspired by CosmoGirl and Popular Mechanics. The online series feature an undetermined number of two- to three-minute episodes that will launch on the magazines' websites. The companies also plan to pitch the content to web portals such as Yahoo and AOL.

The CosmoGirl project is a serialized soap, with fans contributing to the narrative by submitting suggestions for what should happen next in the story. The details of the Popular Mechanics webisodes have not yet been determined, nor has a timeline for launching either project.

50-50 split for Fox, Hearst
The deal marks the first union between Fox and Hearst, with the companies agreeing to a 50-50 split of any advertising revenue. If successful, they hope to create further content for both broadband and network TV. "This is an innovative partnership that marries Fox TV Studios' creative ideas with Hearst's successful brands and content," said Angela Shapiro-Mathes, president of Fox Television Studios.

The webisodes will be the first foray into broadband for Fox Studios, which has long been known primarily for reality and documentary content.

This week, the Fox team will seek to score two more credits when it begins shopping two projects from "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell, whom it signed to a development deal last year. The studio is keeping quiet on the details, but Ms. Shapiro-Mathes is optimistic this summer will be a watershed. "This is a nice place to be in a comparatively short period of time," she said.

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Mr. Hibberd is a reporter with TelevisionWeek.

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Survey Gives Good Reviews to Online Product Reviews

Survey Gives Good Reviews to Online Product Reviews

By Todd Wasserman

NEW YORK -- When it comes to influencing online purchases, positive reviews in Amazon may trump online ads, per a new survey.

One in three Internet users report their purchase decisions are influenced by sites with social content, Amazon being the most influential, according to a report from iProspect and JupiterResearch being released this week.

The study, based on a poll of 2,223 respondents in January, sought to measure how consumers use social networking sites. Though Amazon isn't usually thought of as such a site, the survey defined a social networking location as one that lets users post their own content. In Amazon's case, that means reviews.

Robert Murray, president of iProspect, Boston, said it's unclear whether a positive review in Amazon is more effective than an ad, but: "It's human nature. People trust people."

Among other findings in the survey:

• Search engines get more visitors than social networking sites. Forty percent of adults surveyed visit Yahoo! on a daily basis versus 12% for MySpace.

• YouTube appears to skew male. Twenty-eight percent of men visit the site at least once a month compared to 12% for women.

• The younger the user, the more likely they are to visit and interact with a social networking site. Sixty-eight percent of 18-24-year-olds surveyed visited MySpace over the past month versus 65% for YouTube and 42% for Facebook.

Murray said the data also shows that up to 90% of visitors to social networking sites don't post. That, in part, showed the gap between hype for such social media and the reality, he said. "It's like when blogs first came out a few years ago and all you heard about was how blogs were changing everything," he said. "We tend to overstate the importance of new technologies."

Still, Murray said the item marketers should take away from the survey is that the brands that exploit the two-way communication potential of Web 2.0 will gain an edge over competitors. "You want to find a way to engage with the community in a dialogue," said Murray.

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'Relish' Success, Husni Names It Launch Of The Year

'Relish' Success, Husni Names It Launch Of The Year
by Erik Sass, Monday, Apr 9, 2007 8:15 AM ET

Relish, a magazine delivered via newspaper with a circulation of almost 9 million, was awarded the new magazine "Launch of the Year" by Samir Husni, a professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi, better known as "Mr. Magazine." Every year, Husni--widely acknowledged as a guru of all things magazine--holds a one-man awards ceremony to honor standouts that carry status in the industry.

Asked what distinguished Relish from the other 900 launches of 2006, Husni listed several key accomplishments. Foremost, the magazine's circulation rose from 6 million to 9 million in its first year, partly through the use of an unconventional distribution channel.

"While everyone is complaining about distribution and how bad the single-copy distribution channels are, and how expensive the direct-mail subscriptions channels are, Relish went a different way: the newspaper route." That method guaranteed a strong distribution channel, and it ensured the "timely and cheap delivery of the magazine to its intended audience."

Husni also praised the magazine for giving a boost to the newspaper business --a medium desperately in need of help. "I have spoken with a few newspaper publishers who credited Relish with giving their paper a boost every time it is inserted." In fact, he notes, most papers advertise the arrival of Relish a week before the magazine is out.

Relish and American Profile, both produced by the Publishing Group of America, use the same distribution model as magazine inserts like USA Today and Parade, but they target a previously unfilled niche: "B" and "D" counties usually comprised of small towns and rural areas. The magazines' success is notable--especially in light of the recent closing of Life, which was also distributed via newspapers, but in competition with USA Today and Parade in "A" and "B" counties.