Conde Nast online video to be worth $100M ‘or more’ in five years: Santarpia

Women's magazine SELF launches the publishing giant's eighth video network, which includes hits like GQ's Casualties of the Gridiron (pictured). And there's more to come, says CNE's EVP and chief digital officer.
February 5, 2014

Condé Nast has an ambitious five-year plan that foresees the creation of an online-video business bringing in $100-million “or more” in revenue.

That’s the prediction from Fred Santarpia, executive vice president and chief digital officer, Condé Nast Entertainment (CNE), who recently spoke with StreamDaily.

The five-year plan encompasses “content-creation, distribution, audience development and monetization,” he said.

Last year CNE launched seven video channels, attracting 70 advertisers. On Wednesday, the publishing giant announced the launch of their latest — a video channel for SELF magazine, which debuts with four original shows — and it’s expected that this quarter they will roll out about three more video channels for additional magazine titles. Further ahead, Santarpia’s expectation is that there will be a channel for virtually all of the company’s 20 brands.

“There is an incredible demand in the marketplace for premium video content,” Santarpia said. “We’ve been able to charge a very healthy market-rate CPM.” As CNE moves forward, Santarpia’s expectation is that its videos will become longer-form, driving up rates until they’re more in line with traditional ad-supported TV.

While a 30-person in-house team oversees programming, production and development, content will be mainly be produced by third-party companies, Santarpia said.

CNE is “open to pitches,” a spokesperson told StreamDaily.

At the end of 2013, Condé Nast reported digital advertising growth of 28% and called the video business is a “significant contributor” to that increase. A year before the video network launched, “the company had basically zero video revenue. And now it’s millions of dollars,” Santarpia said.

Seven channels currently exist for Glamour, GQ,, Teen Vogue, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Wired. All feature new content daily, logging more than 400 million views for the year and placing 23rd in comScore’s Top 25 video companies. Video producers include Radical Media, Hud:sun Media and Magical Elves – production companies whose credits include Oprah’s Masterclass, Iconoclasts and Project Runway. CNE currently has revenue-sharing syndication partnerships with AOL, Twitter, Yahoo!, YouTube, Dailymotion, a French video-sharing Website, and Grab Media, a video distribution company.

Most recently, Condé Nast’s GQ made the full season of Casualties of the Gridiron (pictured) available across all platforms of its GQ Digital Network. Gridiron chronicles the road to recovery for former NFL players left physically broken and cognitively impaired from injury-laden football career, according to CNE.

“How you build an audience on the Web is going where the consumer already is,” said Santarpia, “and not trying to force them to come to you.”

CNE’S Vanity Fair video channel, for example, debuted with four shows with up-market appeal: a celebrity interview show hosted by a Vanity Fair editor; a series of interviews based on Vanity Fair contributing editor David Kamp’s books and features called The Snob’s Dictionary; a docu-series about iconic Manhattan addresses; and an animated “how-to” series.

“If we do it right, these videos will be smart, entertaining, and a little bit unconventional,” said Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter. The advertisers Vanity Fair debut pulled in tell an aspirational tale, too: American Express, Salvatore Ferragamo and Acura sponsored the launch.

Still, “it’s a launch year, right?” said Santarpia. “You learn a lot. You make a lot of decisions about what’s working, what’s not working. And you pivot if you have to.”

With files from Melita Kuburas

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