NewFronts Recap: OTT, YouTube, ESPN, Disney, and Hulu All Make Headlines

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NEW YORK – While several big-name media companies served up breaking news during NewFronts week, over-the-top (OTT) video proved it deserves the spotlight, too. 

Among those unveiling OTT channels was Condé Nast, with three of its publications earning OTT video brands. Later this year, it will launch an OTT channel for Wired, with channels for Bon Appetit and GQ to follow.

Condé Nast chief revenue and marketing officer Pamela Drucker Mann said OTT channels help reach “connected audiences through ad placements and series integrations.” 

Meredith Corp., the publisher of titles like People and Better Homes & Gardens, is adding new OTT programming to its channel, PeopleTV, which launched in late 2016.

Alex Weprin, a reporter with MediaPost News, says that as traditional TV players expand their wares to digital, and as more ad dollars overall shift to video, “Publishers remain stuck somewhere in the middle. If this NewFronts week is any indication, however, they are beginning to turn to OTT as a means of moving their businesses forward.”

YouTube reports YouTube TV, the company's OTT streaming package that bundles together TV networks and original programming like YouTube Red, will also offer full-length TV inventory in Google Preferred, Google's premium advertising program.

"Starting next broadcast season, you will be able to advertise against cable TV shows using the best of Google Preferred," YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said. 

YouTube also announced it has teamed with Nielsen Catalina Solutions to better track how YouTube campaigns affect brands' offline sales. Wojcicki cited Nielsen Matched Panel Analysis findings that 70 percent of YouTube campaigns drove a "significant lift" in offline sales over the past few years. 

Another OTT leader, Hulu, reported it has pulled in slightly more new subscribers than Netflix in the first quarter of this year – though it is still far behind the subscription VOD leader. Hulu has added 3 million U.S. subscribers since January – now totaling 20 million subscribers from all of its digital media packages, both ad-supported and non-ad supported.

Standard Media Index (SMI) estimates Hulu’s advertising revenue in the first quarter grew 18 percent to $300 million. In January, Hulu said it pulled in $1 billion in advertising for all of 2017.

Disney shared that its Disney Digital Network (DDN), the media giant's platform for digital-first content aimed at young adults and teens, will include a free ad-supported mobile video app. DDN’s Oh My Disney millennial-targeted brand will release a free app this summer to showcase curated social content and short-form videos.

As Disney prepares to launch a video streaming service to rival Netflix in 2019, the company appears to also be taking on YouTube with an expanded lineup of family-friendly short-form programming. DDN reaches more than 1.3 billion followers among its multiple platforms worldwide. 

And Disney’s sports-media goliath, ESPN, says it’s rolling out a daily, digital version of its "SportsCenter" flagship on the newly-revamped ESPN app.

Hosted by "SportsCenter" anchor Scott Van Pelt and a rotating cast of other ESPN staffers, the daily version of the scores-and-highlights show will help fans get caught up on any news or must-see clips they may have missed the night before.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), which organizes NewFronts, is planning a new, week-long Los Angeles edition slated for October.