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Upfront and Personal: Condé Nast Entertainment inks Comcast deal, sets VR scripted series

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Upfront and Personal: Condé Nast Entertainment inks Comcast deal, sets VR scripted series

CondéNast Entertainment is continuing to ramp up premium video production, includingvirtual reality fare, while expanding its distribution base via a multiplatformcontent deal with Comcast Corp.

The productioncompany, which develops and produces projects that leverage Condé Nast's portfolioof magazines across film, television, premium digital video and virtual reality,said during its May 3 newfront presentation that it has renewed 62% of its short-form,online series, including Vogue's "73Questions," Bon Appetit's "Eat,Stay, Love," Vanity Fair's "CelebrityReadings," and Golf Digest's "GolfChallenge."

CondéNast Entertainment also announced a multipronged incubator initiative aimed at discoveringthe next generation of content creators and the second version of its digital-videoplatform, The Scene, now a mobile app offering new social and sharing features.The company said it struck deals with CNN(US)'s "Great Big Story" and the NBA for the digital-videoplatform, in addition to its 17 existing partners. Under its NBA pact, the leaguewill provide Condé Nast Entertainment with an assist, co-creating multiple new lifestyleseries for The Scene, including one providing an inside look at the lives of someof the top hoopers.

On thedistribution front, Condé Nast Entertainment has inked a video-on-demand pact withComcast, adding to the company's distribution footprint, which stretches acrossmore than 50 platforms. Under the partnership, Condé Nast Entertainment contentwill be accessible on the distributor's website, its Xfinity video-on-demand platformand Watchable, its mobile app.

JenniferSalant, vice president of business development, said in an interview following thepresentation that Condé Nast Entertainment will refresh the content daily with fashion,food and other lifestyle fare. "We're going to make all of our content available.Comcast has a very large platform and we're very excited about the relationship."

Salantsaid the ad-supported VOD content will become available sometime this summer.

In additionto showcasing an array of programming aimed at millennials under the "wherevideo grows up" heading, Condé Nast Entertainment offered a sneak peek of "Invisible,"a scripted, virtual reality series being produced in conjunction with and Samsung. The series,set to debut in September, is sponsored by automaker Lexus.

Set inmodern day Manhattan, "Invisible" focuses on a prominent New York Cityfamily whose secret supernatural gifts are at risk of being exposed after the birthof an exceptional new child draws public interest.

In aninterview after the presentation, Condé Nast Entertainment President Dawn Ostroffsaid "Invisible" will unspool over six episodes, ranging from five toeight minutes apiece.

"Weare really inventing the wheel here; this has not been done before. This is notexperiential VR, but a scripted story," Ostroff said.

CondéNast Entertainment has several other VR projects in the works that are driven bycontent, she added. "You start with great content, but the ad marketplace isso interested. There has been an incredible response."

Lookingto support up-and-coming talent, Condé Nast Entertainment is launching three newincubator programs: "Project Her" will team female filmmakers with mentors,and the finished projects will be displayed on Condé Nast Entertainment's digitalvideo network; "The Big Script" will help young directors turn scriptsinto mini-films, with Condé Nast Entertainment also screening the shorts; and "Creatorsin Residence," supporting the development of millennial filmmakers.

"Whatwe have found is that there is a whole new crop of filmmakers and storytellers wholook at things very differently than the establishment does," said Ostroff."We want to be at the forefront, working with them, nurturing them and allowingtheir voices to speak in unique ways."

Ostroffsaid "Project Her" is very personal, as it harkens back to her days headingprogramming at Lifetime, where "we always did something with the [AmericanFilm Institute] to discover female talent. Ironically, one of the mentors on thisproject was one of the AFI students when I was at Lifetime."

SNL Image

Chief Revenue Officer Lisa Valentino at CONDE NAST ENTERTAINMENT's 2016 newfront

Source: Getty Images for Conde Nast

Launchedin 2013, Condé Nast Entertainment produces more than 4,000 videos per year. Overthe last year, its content has generated more than 2.8 billion video views, accordingto the company. Lisa Valentino, chief revenue officer and senior vice presidentof network sales, said Condé Nast Entertainment reaches 70% of "cultured millennials"in the U.S., a group of 34 million and "the ones with jobs."

Valentinoalso discussed the company's data capabilities. She said with its acquisition of1010data last summer, Condé Nast Entertainment has compiled a massive vault of behavioralinfo, saying that it collects 1 trillion data points from viewers on a monthly basis,providing the company and its advertisers with insights about buying habits.

CondéNast Entertainment at its newfront also announced a partnership with content-measurementfirm SimpleReach that will create a newdashboard for analyzing the performance of branded content video across all distributionplatforms. It is scheduled to bow in early fall.

Billingitself as a next generation studio, Condé Nast Entertainment also has projects inolder media: film and TV.

Its firstfeature film — "The First Monday in May" a documentary about the MetropolitanMuseum of Art's 2015 exhibition of Chinese-inspired western fashions — opened the2016 Tribeca Film Festival and is currently in theaters. Its second feature, "Armyof One," starring Nicolas Cage and Russell Brand, is slated to be releasedlater this year. Condé Nast Entertainment is in pre-production on two other featurefilms and has 20 additional film projects in development.

The companyalso said it has five TV series in production or on the air, with "The FashionFund" and "The New Yorker Presents" on Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video service. It also has a first-lookdeal at 21st Century Fox Inc.'s20th Century Fox Television for scripted programming.