How Conde Nast built a massive video operation

It centralized its video production and started acting more like a TV studio.

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Tubefilter: Conde Nast Clocks 62 Million YouTube Subscribers, Unveils New Shoppable Ad Product

From the article:

The publishing goliath also shared some stats — that its video network delivered 10.3 million unique incremental viewers who were not reached by broadcast or cable in 2020, a figure that is up 6% year-over-year. Conde’s global video network drives 1 billion monthly views, it said, with over 61.5 million subscribers on YouTube alone.

Conde Nast has built a monster video operation.

How did it do this? By centralizing all of its video production into a single division so that it could ensure quality control across the YouTube channels of all of its magazine titles. Once it accomplished that, it was able to establish a system for vetting new video ideas that, in some ways, mimics a traditional TV network. The magazines started creating series with repeatable formats, and every series is subjected to a pilot process before it’s greenlit for an entire season.

Because of this process, Conde Nast was able to launch several recognizable franchises like:

Vogue:73 Questions With [CELEBRITY]

Bon Appetit:Pastry Chef Attempts to Make Gourmet [COMMON FOOD]

Architectural Digest:Inside [CELEBRITY’S] home

Vanity Fair: [CELEBRITY] breaks down their career

By establishing repeatable formats, Conde Nast became less reliant on one-off viral successes, and a video’s viewership numbers were now much more predictable. Viewers often fall down a rabbit hole of recommended videos, clicking on episode after episode of the same series. It also became much easier to pitch advertisers once they could get a better feel for what they would be sponsoring.

For a deeper dive into how Conde Nast’s production team works, check out this Business Insider piece from last year. The company’s success shows that the “pivot to video” wasn’t disastrous for all media outlets. Those that properly invested in the medium are starting to see a huge return on that investment.

My latest: This progressive media company used crowdfunding to get off the ground

Could progressives ever replicate the success of conservative Facebook pages? An activist in Canada decided to find out if such a thing was possible.

Axios: More NYT subscriptions coming from non-news products in the Biden era

From the article:

New subscriber growth was weighted much more heavily this quarter towards non-news products than in any other previous quarter in the company’s history. A record 44% of The Times’ new digital subscribers came from non-core news products, like cooking, games and audio, last quarter.

Matthew Ball: What Is an Entertainment Company in 2021 and Why Does the Answer Matter?

This is a great piece exploring why Disney is so much more successful than its competitors. From the article:

In 2016 … DC spoke about the irrelevance of critical reviews and exit polling after Batman v. Superman (27% Rotten Tomatoes, B CinemaScore) and Suicide Squad (a barely known franchise in the DC universe that also earned a 27% and B) opened to massive $166MM and $134MM grosses. Two years later, DC’s signature film, Justice League (40%, B+), cratered with a $93MM opening despite starring the three most popular DC characters (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman).

Marvel’s subsequent Avengers film grossed more in its opening weekend than Justice League did in its lifetime. As did Black Panther, who was largely unknown before his film debut. It’s notable that across 23 films, the MCU has had only one B-level CinemaScore. The DCEU collected two by its third film, even though the average box office haul for these films was higher thanks to the comparative strength of their characters. If you build love, monetization follows. If you underperform, monetization is harmed.

We assume that a lot of Disney's success can be attributed to its IP ownership (Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar). But Sony and Fox owned a lot of Marvel IP and their movies didn't perform nearly as well. Disney's real strength is its storytelling.

Medium: His network of newsletters merged local news with content marketing

Unlike most media companies that erect a firewall between editorial and advertising, The 100 Companies actually licenses its platform out to local PR and marketing firms. Yes, those firms can promote their own clients, but they’re also incentivized to curate quality local information that their subscribers will find relevant.

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Simon Owens is a tech and media journalist living in Washington, DC. Follow him on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn. Email him at For a full bio, go here.