Whenever Dr. Phil and The Doctors’ executive producer, Carla Pennington, wanted to take a break, she would head to DailyMail.com, where every day approximately 800 videos, 12,800 photos and 1,600 stories are posted.
That amount of content might be overwhelming to a typical person, but not to Pennington, who learned her producing chops on Entertainment Tonight and is used to sifting through information for stories she wants to tell.
“I’m obsessed with this website,” she said. “It’s one of those websites where I fall down the rabbit hole. I click on story after story.”
Pennington started sending some of the stories she found on the site to her producers at Dr. Phil. It didn’t take long before she had a greater realization about the site: “I just knew this would make an amazing television show.”
Pennington reached out to DailyMail.com and set up a meeting between her and the stars and producers of the two TV shows she oversees: Dr. Phil McGraw and his son, Jay. “We do everything together,” she said. “We’re sort of the three musketeers.”
The three met with DailyMail.com CEO and publisher Martin Clarke and soon a deal was struck. In June 2015, DailyMailTV was announced at Cannes Lion.
“The secret sauce [to the success of the site] is several things,” said Clarke. “We figured out reasonably early that it didn’t really matter what our legacy brand was, we had to approach digital completely differently.”
Site and Sound
DailyMail.com is the digital brand of the U.K.’s The Daily Mail, which has been around since 1896, but the two operate very differently.
“I produce a website, not a newspaper, and that appeals to a broader demographic. The content on the website doesn’t have to be siloed,” said Clarke, who drew inspiration from his Facebook news feed back in 2007. “It offered content of all sorts — serious, silly, showbiz — and I knew that was the competition. Any website wouldn’t be able to compete unless it was offering a similar breadth of content.”
Just like on DailyMail.com, the content itself will be the star of DailyMailTV. The show, which will be offered in territories beyond the United States, will rely on the site’s 243 million unique global visitors — including 85 million uniques in the states — and use metrics to choose which items to feature. The team is currently seeking the show’s hosts as well as its day-to-day showrunner with Pennington overseeing everything as executive producer.
“I think it’s going to redefine the genre of news magazines,” said Jay McGraw, whose studio, Stage 29 Productions, will produce, with distribution coming from CBS Television Distribution. “Right now, you only have one-note news magazines — either straight celebrity or straight crime or straight human interest. Having the variety of content that’s really tightly defined under the Daily Mail banner will be one of the defining characteristics of the show.”
“Daily Mail breaks a lot of news stories,” McGraw continued. “If you go back and look at some of the big bell-ringer stories over the past several years, a lot of them have come from the Daily Mail, whether that’s Cecil the Lion or Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal.” Selling the show took some time. Earlier in April, Tribune, Sinclair and Gray committed to the show, clearing it in 105 markets and nearly 70% of the UnitedStates.
“It’s a really good idea,” said Sean Compton, president of strategic programming and acquisitions, Tribune Media. “We just didn’t have a roadmap to getting it on the air that made sense until now.”
As of NATPE in January, there only appeared to be one new national show headed to air for this fall: Twentieth’s Page Six TV, produced by Endemol Shine North America. Since then, it looks like Twentieth’s Top 30 and Tegna’s to-be-renamed BOLD, distributed by MGM, also will air this fall, but that lack of product created some room in the marketplace.
“In this world of evergreen programming in daytime, nothing is day and date on our stations other than our newscasts and Crime Watch Daily,” Compton said. “I’ve been jealous of shows like Fox has with TMZ Live. I see DailyMail in a similar vein and that’s how I think people will look to consume TV more and more in the future.”
While DailyMailTV will be a magazine, it’s not necessarily being produced for access. It’s being designed to work as both a news lead-in and -out, whether in the afternoon or late-fringe. DailyMailTV is being produced as an hour, and stations can either air the entire hour at once or break it up into two half-hours to run in different dayparts. Either way, the content in the show will be king.