AOL BACKS IVILLAGE PEOPLE;MEDIA INDUSTRY VETS CARPENTER, EVANS HOPE TO BRING FAMILIES ONLINE

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If Candice Carpenter and Nancy Evans have anything to say about it, the online world will soon be a place for family-friendly entertainment and content.

The two women, both longtime media industry executives, have created iVillage, an online programming service that will appear simultaneously on America Online and the World Wide Web in January.

Ms. Carpenter, former president of electronic retailing channel Q2, is chairman-CEO of the new venture. Ms. Evans, who was founding editor of Family Life with Jann Wenner and was former editor and publisher of all Doubleday book imprints, is president.

The company will get additional cyberspace expertise from Elaine Rubin, who this week joins iVillage as senior VP-interactive marketing, from general manager of interactive services at 1-800-Flowers.

America Online is providing funding for iVillage, but it will be a separate venture from its Greenhouse content development program that provides seed money to start-up companies.

"This is our first attempt [of this] scale in which we are looking at the site, iVillage, as an area with multiple content channels," said Ted Leonsis, president of America Online Services Co. "This is [our] first programming endeavor specifically for the parents market."

IVillage will unveil five programming areas starting in January: the flagship ParentSoup, dedicated to child and family issues, followed by areas devoted to health and fitness, work, dating and relationships and food. Each area will have 14 subsections.

Ms. Carpenter emphasized that iVillage is working to develop brands within its site, rather than just provide information.

Like a TV network, the company is considering using timed programming-regular content or features that appear at specific times every day or week. MTV has tried the concept on MTV Online on AOL, as has Sci-Fi Channel, on its Dominion Web site (http://www.scifi.com).

"I'd like a user to know that every Wednesday at 10 p.m. they can see the same thing," said Ms. Evans, who has a 7-year-old daughter. The site will also place the shows in a library area for users to download after they "air."

IVillage is hoping to sell annual channel sponsorships for $375,000 or content area sponsorships for $150,000-prices that some advertisers might well consider beyond their interactive budget. The 18-employee company will work with marketers to develop graphics and content.

For Ms. Evans and Ms. Carpenter, who are both mothers, creating a place where parents (including dads) can talk one-on-one about child-raising issues was key.

"There wasn't much emotion in cyberspace," said Ms. Carpenter, a single mother of an 18-month-old girl. "We're interested in creating channels that are more like the way people talk."

Ms. Evans said she wished she could have worked more directly with her audience while she was at Family Life.

"I used to realize when I was taking my daughter to school that parents don't even have time to talk to each other," she said. "At Family Life, I loved getting letters from readers, but was frustrated about the process of responding."

IVillage won't be the only game in town. On the Web, there are dozens of sites for parents and children, many with links. Lang Communications is currently developing a Web presence called Women's Web, which will feature content extending editorial of its titles, including Working Mother. AOL, meanwhile, carries Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing Group's Parents title and Scholastic Update from educational publisher Scholastic.

AOL has been a leader among online services in investing in new content. It formed the AOL Greenhouse earlier this year to provide seed money, publishing tools and marketing support to new, creative ventures that emphasize AOL's community-building theme.

"If AOL is funding something that's also available on the Web, that shows they realize people in the long term will want to get their information there," said Josh Bernoff, senior analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass. "I haven't heard of any other [commercial services] who have worked so hard on this."

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