'ET' Headed Over the Top with ET Live

Entertainment Tonight is going OTT with the launch Wednesday of ET Live, a 24/7 live streaming app.

The service will take advantage of Entertainment Tonight’s deep roots in entertainment over nearly 40 years of reporting to offer entertainment news to a new generation of viewers, said Becky Brooks, senior vice president of multi-platform programming for CBS Television Distribution (CTD).

“We all know how much viewing and consumption has changed over the last four decades and we want to keep ET strong and vibrant,” she said. “We are combining the best of the brand — credibility, authority and access — but on a new platform to reach a specific non-broadcast audience with always-on entertainment coverage.”

ET Live will be hosted by six co-hosts: Lauren Zima, Denny Direct, Cassie DiLaura, Tanner Thomason, Jason Carter and Melicia Johnson. ET hosts Nancy O’Dell, Kevin Frazier, Nichelle Turner and Keltie Knight also will regular appear to promote what’s coming up and exclusive to the on-air broadcast.

“You will never see anything on the broadcast duplicated on ET Live,” said Brooks. “The content is generated and created by a different team that’s very fresh and young. We want the people who are creating this service to be sophisticated and skilled but also in the same demographic as the people we are trying to reach.”

The new service was developed in close collaboration between CBS Interactive and CTD. CBS Interactive oversees the company’s other streaming apps — CBSN, CBS Sports HQ and CBS All Access. CBSN, which offers 24/7 news, and CBS Sports HQ, which offers the same for sports, will work in concert with ET Live, with subscribers able to jump between them.

“What you are seeing from CBS Interactive is that we’re launching best-in-class streaming platforms from a variety of categories,” said David Katz, senior vice president and general manager of CTD Digital. “You will see these things acting in concert with one another, nesting inside of each other’s apps. So if you are watching sports on CBS Sports HQ and something happens in entertainment or news, you can switch over.”

ET Live will offer onsite coverage of red-carpet premieres, behind-the-scenes visits to movie sets, as well as 24/7 coverage of major events, such as the Oscars and San Diego Comic Con.

For example, ET host Keltie Knight attended the Hollywood premiere of Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born and reported on co-star Lady Gaga’s fashion, conducted interviews on the red carpet and saw the movie. While some of that reporting would be produced and end up on ET, a lot of it would remain on the cutting-room floor. With ET Live, that reporting can be converted into a real-time offering for fans.

“This generation we’re trying to reach is all about having an experience,” said Brooks. “This is a way to give them that experience. We intend to really bring you these experiences in a very relatable way.”

“We feel like entertainment news is exploding,” said Katz. “Celebrities are creating their own news on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. We need to contextualize that, to have an understanding of what’s happening. ET Live will have the ability to do that but also be able to push into some of these new areas.”

While ET Live is intended as a standalone service aimed at younger viewers, the goal is to keep the TV show as popular and relevant as possible.

“We want to keep ET top of mind as the most meaningful and relevant news source,” said Brooks. “For that to happen, we need to expose it to a new generation that we know doesn’t necessarily come to the television show.”

Live-streaming apps are mostly a new area for syndicated shows, although many of them offer apps and live programming on YouTube, Facebook and their own online platforms. Syndicated shows also are moving into streaming, with CTD’s Jeopardy! available on Hulu and now Netflix.

The ET Live app is available on iOs and Android platforms, as well as on Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV with additional platforms coming soon.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.