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Essence Teams Up with the Warner Bros. Television Group for Expansive, Multiplatform Content Partnership

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Burbank, Calif. (Vocus) April 21, 2008 — The Warner Bros. Television Group and Time Inc.’s Essence Communications Inc. are teaming up on a series of initiatives that will expand the Essence brand across a number of platforms, including the Internet and television. One of the first projects to come from the new relationship is the late summer re-launch of an expansive new web destination at Essence.com, created in collaboration with WBTVG’s Telepictures Productions, which aims to be the ultimate online destination for African-American women.

The announcement was made today by Bruce Rosenblum, President, Warner Bros. Television Group; Hilary Estey McLoughlin, President, Telepictures Productions; Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications, Inc.; and Angela Burt-Murray, Editor-in-Chief, Essence magazine.

“We are thrilled to be working with the exceptional teams at both Essence and Time Inc. on this exciting new endeavor. This cross-divisional partnership is a further step in our Television Group’s overall new media strategy of developing premium ad-supported digital destinations with engaging original content and a distinct point of view,” said Rosenblum. “We eagerly anticipate working with Essence to align the quality of their brand, vision and content with our multimedia television businesses.”

“The new Essence.com will be the most thorough web destination ever created for African-American women and become the daily site where Black women click first,” said Michelle Ebanks. “In addition, the new Essence.com will create the ideal launching pad for Essence and Telepictures’ broader collaborative efforts on innovative television programming uniquely suited for our audience.”

In addition to the re-imagining of Essence.com, the multiplatform agreement between Essence and WBTVG also includes plans to expand the Essence brand into television. Telepictures Productions and Essence will work in partnership to develop content based upon the Essence brand and establish working relationships across the various Telepictures properties, which will serve as incubators for potential television series or original digital programming for broadband. The first project to result will be “Extra on Essence,” an original digital series for Essence.com hosted by Tanika Ray, correspondent and weekend co-anchor of the daily entertainment news magazine program “Extra.” In addition to hosting the web series, Ray will also have a presence on Essence.com that will potentially include other hosting duties, as well as blogging. The “Extra”-Essence relationship will also expand to the print publication, with “Extra” contributing news that will be featured in Essence magazine’s entertainment section on a regular basis. The relationship between the two will be expected to strengthen and broaden over time.

“Essence and Telepictures have the shared expertise of creating content for women,” said Estey McLoughlin. “At Telepictures, we have a track record of success in both television and digital. By combining our strengths with Essence’s reach and power, we are so excited to partner with the premier lifestyle and entertainment brand for African-American women and help them expand online and into television, which will greatly benefit Essence’s audience.”

“This pioneering partnership for the new Essence.com smartly takes advantage of the complementary expertise of two premier company divisions and will undoubtedly raise the bar for online outlets targeting this influential audience,” commented Time Inc. Chairman & CEO, Ann Moore. “In addition, aggressively expanding the Essence footprint across platforms dovetails nicely with Time Inc.’s strategy to maintain its leadership position as a multimedia content company.”

The revamped and redesigned Essence.com will serve as the ultimate source for African American-related news, entertainment and community, and will reflect the successful tone and approach of the esteemed Essence brand. Essence.com will feature a mix of exclusive and original daily content – including news, fashion, lifestyle and video – with new interactive community features, all catering to an audience of 18–49-year-old Black women. The new site will be topical, with continuous updates throughout the day, and is scheduled to launch in summer ’08.

In collaborating with Telepictures to create relevant, differentiated content for its core audience, Essence will make use of the production company’s more than 20 years of experience producing high-quality, award-winning television and Internet programming for women, including ”The Tyra Banks Show,” ”The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” ”The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” “Extra” and the new online destination for moms by moms, MomLogic.com. Telepictures also produces TMZ.com (in a joint venture with AOL), the number one entertainment news destination on the Internet, and “TMZ,” the number one new first-run syndicated television program of the 2007–2008 season. Similarly, the alliance will enable Telepictures to leverage the strength of the Essence brand and its growing online presence, as well as tap into the creative power of the team behind multiplatform franchises such as the Essence marriage proposal contest, ”Will You Marry Me?,” and Essence.com’s ”30 Dates in 30 Days,” the first-ever interactive, online, reality dating show.

All Essence.com content will be available though a variety of distribution methods in addition to living on the site itself. All videos will be embeddable. Articles and blogs will be available through RSS feeds, and much of the content will be available for use in customized widgets.

“We’re committed to making Essence.com the definitive web destination for Black women and – with an emphasis on community – helping them to connect with each other will be a major part of that effort,” said Angela Burt-Murray. “In addition, developing quality content across the board for African-American women is a major priority for the Essence brand, so broadening our partnership with Telepictures into television is a natural progression.”

Internet usage among African-Americans is growing – with recent reports projecting 25 million African-American Internet users in 2011, up from 19.6 million in 2006. In addition, African-American buying power totaled $845 billion in 2007 and is projected to top $1.1 trillion by 2012 – a 34 percent increase over the five-year period.

The advertising inventory for Essence.com will be handled predominantly by Essence, with a contribution from Warner Bros.’ Digital Media Sales team, as part of its growing women’s network.

The Essence.com team will include Essence Director of Digital Development, Lesley Pinckney, who will oversee sales and marketing efforts and site development, as well as two new hires: Essence Digital Account Director Darryl Dye, and an Essence.com Managing Editor to be announced in the coming weeks. Dye was previously an Account Director for AOL Black Voices, where he exceeded annual goals by 100%, gaining new business from advertisers such as General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, Ford, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble.

SOURCE: eMediaWire

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Written by Symphony

April 21, 2008 at 8:03 pm

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