EXCLUSIVE: WME plans to tap into ideas and stories from 155-year-old The Atlantic magazine and digital properties like TheAtlanticWire to create opportunities across the film, television, and digital space. The Atlantic has a monthly audience of about 30 million across through its print, digital and live platforms. The mag that has published the likes of Updike, Twain and Hemingway continues to showcase writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates, who won this year’s National Magazine Award for Best Essay for “Fear Of A Black President”; James Fallows; Jeffrey Goldberg; Molly Ball; Alexis Madrigal; and Derek Thompson among others. Several articles have already been optioned for TV or film treatment including Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” (July/August 2012), Kate Bolick’s “All The Single Ladies” (November 2011), Hanna Rosin’s “The End Of Men” (July/Aug 2010), Lori Gottlieb’s “Marry Him!” (March 2008), and Don Peck’s “How A New Jobless Era Will Transform America” (March 2010).
Apparently so, according to writer Derek Thompson’s well researched and engagingly presented, but unfortunately misguided, article about pay TV pricing (“Prisoners of Cable“) in the latest issue of my favorite magazine, The Atlantic. He acknowledges that the seven largest Big Media companies — including News Corp, Viacom, Disney, and Time Warner — “use their oligopolistic power” to give cable and satellite customers a simple choice: either buy “a bloated offering of channels at an arrestingly high price” or go without. “Cable’s proposition to consumers is simple: if you want the new, good, TV shows, you need the bundle.” That’s unfair, right? Not to Thompson. The system that makes people pay for channels they don’t want also gives us classy fare including HBO’s Game Of Thrones and AMC’s Mad Men and Breaking Bad. “Indeed,” Thompson says, “it’s no accident that as pay-TV has proliferated, and costs have risen, we’ve also entered a golden age of television.” And even though “as a monthly fee, cable feels like a rip-off…as hourly entertainment, it’s not.” The proof: The bundle only costs 20 cents an hour for the average four-person home that watches as much as four hours a day. The kicker: “more than 100 million households still think the price is worth paying.”
That’s what the struggling Internet search and content company hopes to accomplish as it unveils today what it calls “the first stage of an ambitious yearlong program” to build on its partnership with ABC News and cover 2012 campaign issues — and especially the presidential horse race. The effort includes a “TV-quality web show” called Remake America that will launch in January and track how eight families perceive the unfolding national debate. (People who want to be considered for the show can apply here.) Yahoo also plans to create social networks for groups such as mothers and young voters who want to discuss common interests. The Internet company has beefed up its political reporting and analysis staff under Washington Bureau Chief David Chalian, who used to oversee political coverage at ABC and the PBS NewsHour. In addition to its original content, the company will tap reporting and analysis from The Atlantic, The Blaze, FactCheck.org, Forbes, National Journal, Reuters, and This Week. Yahoo promises “deep integration” with ABC News, including lots of newsmaker interviews based on questions solicited from Yahoo users. But the most intriguing — and potentially scary — change is the planned launch of a blog called The Signal. Yahoo says it will use its “planet-scale cloud technology and research resources” to “capture the national mood and project what is likely to happen” in the campaign with “up-to-the minute predictions, sentiment, games, and commentary.”
ICM, which has set up dozens of option deals for its client The New York Times and which just recently started making deals for New York Magazine, this week has signed The Atlantic. The agency will package the magazine’s articles for film, TV and online. Founded in 1857, the magazine has over the years published works by Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Charles Portis, Philip Roth and Dennis Lehane. They’ve had articles optioned for film and TV, but now they have an agency proactively shopping present and past content to Hollywood. ICM will rep all Atlantic Media Group properties, including National Journal Group and Government Executive.