NewFronts 2016: Refinery29 Mints New Series, Launches VR-360 Studio

Launches target Instagram, YouTube, Facebook as video views soar 10x over 2015 levels

Female-skewing lifestyle brand Refinery29 announced the creation of VR29 Studios, a virtual reality and 360-focused programming and production studio and the launch of more than a dozen original series at its NewFront pitch to digital media buyers.

The company’s new slate will include scripted and unscripted longform, shorts and interactive live events, all with distinct social media hooks. The program launches will target Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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Strategically, the programming will mine the theme of “claiming power” through what the company emphasized was “passion, strength and empathy.” Chief content officer Amy Emmerich, who joined the company after a stint at Vice Media, underscored the plan to “move away from the idea of selling ‘empowerment’ to women.  This generation of women has an innate sense of power that has never existed before, and we see it in our audience every day. We need to honor that power.”

VR29 Studios will include the creation of opportunities for female creators. In testing for the past year, the unit will hit the open market run by a team of eight, with one planned launch of a VR/360 “asset” every week through year-end.

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R29 Originals, since launching in April 2015, has sent overall site video views soaring 10 times over year-ago levels. Refinery29 now reaches more than 100 million video views per month and recorded some noteworthy titles such as The Skinny, which is produced by Transparent’s Jill Soloway and Andrea Sperling. It premiered at last January’s Sundance Film Festival and won a Webby Award.