Time Inc. has combined the creative forces of two of its most popular properties – People and Entertainment Weekly – to form PEN, an online network with a Hollywood focus.
The free network will launch on Sept. 13 on various digital platforms, including streaming devices (Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast), mobile devices (iOS and Android) and dedicated website. The network will stream continuously, with five hours of original programming a week and content from Time Inc.’s expansive archives, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“The editorial teams at People and EW now tell their stories across print, digital, social and video, and they bring their impeccable storytelling expertise, deep Hollywood connections and journalistic chops to everything else we do, including TV shows, consumer events – and now this ambitious network. People/Entertainment Weekly Network is a game changer, and we hope you love it,” Jess Cagle, Editorial Director of People and EW, wrote in an open letter.
PEN will operate like a traditional TV channel in most respects. For instance, shows will typically range from 22 minutes to a half hour with advertisements interspersed throughout, and users accessing the service for the first time will see a program in progress. However, the major difference is that everything will be available on-demand.
According to Variety, there will be 14 original shows and specials within the network’s first month and more than 300 hours of new programming planned for the first year. Some of the initial offerings include:
- “Children of 9/11: 15 Years Later” – A documentary that shares the story of five children who weren’t born when their fathers died during the tragic events of Sept. 11. Premieres Sept. 13.
- “The Jess Cagle Interview” – Cagle will interview significant figures in Hollywood, beginning with Jimmy Kimmel ahead of his Primetime Emmys hosting gig. Previous interviews with the likes of Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Reynolds will be available on-demand. Debuts Sept. 13.
- “EW Reunites” – The cast of “Friday Night Lights” reunites on the show’s 10th anniversary to reminisce about its legacy in popular culture. Premieres Sept. 14.
- “People Features” – The series will cover stories from a wide range of topics, beginning with a piece on Rory Feek, the husband of late country star Joey Feek. Debuts Sept. 15.
- “Red Carpet Live Special” – Hosts Alicia Quarles and J.D. Heyman go live from the red carpet of the 68th Primetime Emmys for a two-hour special. Coverage begins Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. ET.
Other upcoming series include “Hollywood at Home,” a series that gives viewers an inside peek at how celebrities live (similar to “MTV Cribs”), and “Bingeworthy,” a show hosted by Jessica Shaw and Touré in which the duo covers the latest happenings in TV.
The creation of PEN highlights Time Inc.’s initiative to reach younger audiences and capitalize on video ads, especially as print ad revenue continues to decline.
Of course it will take PEN time to establish itself as a go-to option in the world of streaming, with preestablished powers already in place and new challengers popping up seemingly every month. But let us know in the comment section if PEN would be of interest to you.