Now more than ever, magazine brands are trying to figure out how to best serve their readers and viewers. With that relationship in mind, Hearst Magazines Digital Media has moved into a brand new 26,000-square-foot video and multimedia production studio.
The studio is located in New York on the fourth floor of The Sheffield, near Hearst Tower on West 57th St; sources familiar with local commercial real estate estimate that a commercial long-term lease in that area would cost around $1.7 million per year. Hearst does own this space in The Sheffield.
The open floor plan will allow for multiple work stations, five dedicated production studios and vanities with hair and makeup prep areas that will be used by Hearst brands already involved in the video space. Video producers will be working closely with editorial teams from the brands—including Marie Claire, Seventeen, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar—to create a seamless production process.
Hearst has teams from BestProducts.com and Cosmopolitan.com already in the Sheffield, as well as its overall branded content practice, HearstMade.
“You can’t underestimate the effect that your physical space can have on your creative psyche,” said Kate Lewis, Hearst Magazine Digital Media’s svp and editorial director.
“This is a similar approach to when we re-zhuzhed our digital production five years ago,” she said. “Back then, we needed to get into the conversation of the internet by blogging news at a fast pace. We’ve only started to see the advancement of storytelling our digital video can do within the last couple of years.”
Currently, Hearst sees an average of 1.5 billion video views per month and creates about 150 videos per week (not including quick meme content) across all brands; the company is eager to generate more.
With a dedicated space for video production, Hearst brands, including digital-only platform Sweet, can continue to dive deeper into the content their audiences want. Additionally, these studios can be used for branded content shoots, a large part of Hearst’s revenue streams.
“The goal for these teams is to grow the way they tell visual stories,” said Anna Jimenez, director of editorial video content for Hearst Magazines Digital Media. “We’re thinking about watch time on our videos and finding audiences who want our content.”
Jimenez and Lewis have seen both ends of the video production spectrum grow at Hearst in recent memory; short-form shows are its “bread and butter” and cover everything from popular memes to breaking news stories, but audiences are “hungry for long-form content” as well, she said.
Jimenez added that shows like Younger Games, which features real-life experiences of gimmicks designed to make people look more youthful, have an active fan base that anticipates new episodes. Delish’s WTFood sometimes has runaway hits like its video about whiskey-soaked pickles, which now has over 11 million views since being posted to Facebook in September.
While trying to increase followers and view counts across the company, Hearst’s video production team is keeping an eye on future trends while remaining embedded among the brands.
“Video is a long game,” said Lewis. “We’ve scaled back our weekly production a lot to help combat the level of saturation our audience might be feeling as it gets harder for them to hunt for the good stuff.”
For Lewis, building this studio and investing in the future of video at Hearst takes patience.
“There are some projects you have to give air in order to attract an audience,” she said. “By resurfacing our content over time, we’re building a deeper connection with our watcher.”