People/Entertainment Weekly Network Becomes ‘PeopleTV’

The People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN), a free, ad-supported OTT service launched about a year ago, is being rebranded as PeopleTV amid a plan to grow its viewer base and take full advantage of the People brand.

PeopleTV will continue to offer programming created and developed by Entertainment Weekly, such as Entertainment Weekly: The Show, and EW Cast Reunions (the episode that with the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the network’s most-viewed episode so far), for example, but the rebranding comes about based in part by consumer research and engagement data that was generated during PEN’s first year in service.

The original idea was to represent all of the contributors in the brand of the service. “But we found that there was a little bit of confusion [with the PEN brand], and the fact of the matter is that there’s no bigger brand than People in celebrity news, and it seemed silly not to really use the power of that brand,” Susanne Mei, PeopleTV’s GM, explained.

With the rebrand, PeopleTV also issued some updated stats, noting that the service has generated about 100 million views across platforms so far in 2017, and that the network has garnered more than 2 million downloads.

PeopleTVs’ rebrand also comes ahead of the Emmy’s weekend, as it will co-sponsor Entertainment Weekly’s Pre-Emmy Party at the Sunset Tower Hotel on Friday. PeopleTV will also be a presenting sponsor of the 11th Annual “Evening Before,” benefiting the Motion Picture & Television Fund.

Mei said the service has generally seen usage grow on a month-to-month basis, but has seen spikes around certain pieces of content, including its exclusive with Maria Menounos.

She added that the OTT offering is also seeing different types of engagement on different platforms, finding, for example, that iOS users tend to watch more short-form content.

“We're getting smarter about what people like on Roku and what people like to watch on their iOS devices,” Mei said.

PeopleTV offers apps for Apple TV, Roku players, Amazon Fire TV devices, iOS and Android, as well as through distribution partners such as Xumo and Pluto TV, which runs a free linear-style OTT service, and on Comcast’s X1 set-top boxes. Mei said PeopleTV is also in talks with virtual MVPDs such as DirecTV Now and Sling TV.

“We’re always looking for more ways to distribute,” she said. “What’s shaking out at this point is that you pretty much have to be in as many places as you can, and that's absolutely our perspective." 

PeopleTV also announced a slate of new series for 2017/2017, including Shelf Life (a show about must-read books as curated by the People and EW editors, and hosted by Jill Adams); Family Portrait (a look at diverse families across the country, produced by SoulPancake); Paws & Claws (“buzzworthy” animal stories); Entertainment Weekly: Hollywood True Crime; and Sizing Up the Dress (following to-be brides in search of the perfect gown, produced by Authentic Entertainment).