iVillage-NBC Dreams As Yet Unfulfilled

The NYT reports on the first year of the rocky NBC-iVillage marriage.  The ad dollars on iVillage seem to be flowing finally, but the network has had to relearn the tough lessons it learned back in the first Internet boom, when it tried to play catch-up by buying a third-rate portal, burning loads of money, and then shutting it down.  (The NYT didn’t mention this earlier disaster: Perhaps the forthrightness of Beth Comstock, Deborah Fine, and others at NBC about the iVillage situation helped it forget).

Some lessons: 

  1. Viewers don’t visit web sites just because you promote them on TV.  If they did, the networks would rule the Internet, and Google wouldn’t exist.  But for some reason, this dream dies hard.
  2. Don’t decide to move Manhattan staff to New Jersey. Not hard to imagine why iVillage veterans up and quit the moment they got that memo.
  3. Don’t create bad TV shows to promote web sites–viewers hate bad TV shows.  The pathetic iVillage Live is about to relaunch after getting overhauled.
  4. Don’t panic and buy web properties just because Rupert Murdoch hit a home run with MySpace.  Turns out Rupert’s MySpace gamble has had marvellous ancillary effects: It has prompted most of his competitors to rush out to try to emulate him, only to fall flat on their faces.

The NYT also reports that NBC is considering picking up the much-shopped Oxygen Media–a move that would not help its online efforts much.  Asking price: $1 billion.

Also see: NBC Exiles Hundreds of Employees to Englewood

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