Zalaznick Promoted at NBC Universal

Will Oversee Newly Combined Ventures Aimed at Women

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Lauren Zalaznick's workload just got heavier. The president of NBC Universal's Bravo, Oxygen and Green Is Universal was named president of the company's Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, adding oversight of iVillage to her daily duties. The networks will be bundled together under a new platform called Women @ NBCU, which will be introduced at NBC's upfront presentation to advertisers May 12 at New York's Radio City Music Hall.
Lauren Zalaznick
Lauren Zalaznick Credit: Bravo/Steve Freeman

In a recent interview with Ad Age, Ms. Zalaznick described her expanded role as a retail developer of sorts for NBCU's women-targeted properties. "If you think of Bravo and Oxygen as the anchor stores in a mall, then I want my agency clients to be able to go shopping at our boutiques, and you can guess what the boutiques are -- 'The Today Show,' 'Lipstick Jungle,' iVillage, 'Suze Orman' and whatever's on Ben Silverman's fall development slate. Those are boutiques that can add up to a powerful women's shopping experience."

Providing support
Ms. Zalaznick was promoted today by Jeff Gaspin, president and chief operating officer of Universal Television Group, a colleague of Ms. Zalaznick's since their days as programmers at VH1 in the late 1990s. Discussing Ms. Zalaznick's paragraph-long responsibilities, he recently told Ad Age, "We put a lot on her plate, making sure she has the resources to pull it off and just the emotional support to give her the confidence to make some difficult decisions."

Having Ms. Zalaznick's programming expertise from Bravo behind iVillage could be a particular coup for the troubled website, long considered to be worth less than the $600 million NBCU paid to acquire it two years ago.

Although traffic to iVillage.com increased 19% year-over-year in March 2008 to 18.5 million unique visitors, other efforts to expand the brand have been less successful -- most notably, a syndicated daytime talk show, "In the Loop With iVillage," that launched in December 2006 and aired during the same time period as ABC's "The View" in key markets. The show was canceled by NBC Local Media in February and officially ceased production at the end of March. The cancellation coincided with 13 layoffs at iVillage, including editor in chief Jeannie Beard. Deborah Fine, president of iVillage Properties, is a longtime key iVillage exec who remains with the company and will now report to Ms. Zalaznick.

Seeking female fans
NBC's move into aggregating more women's content coincides with a similar strategy at ABC. The Disney-owned company recently built out a vertical ad network for ABC Daytime's SoapNet cable network to aggregate more eyeballs and ad dollars around soap-related social networking sites. And Lifetime, which is jointly owned by Disney/ABC and Hearst Corp., notoriously snagged Bravo's "Project Runway" last month in a high-profile bid to use the reality show as a tentpole for similar content like "Models of the Runway," both produced by the Weinstein Co.
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