Eventually, CNET executives envision TV.com as a key source of data for TV executives by determining which TV shows consumers are likely to tune in. The company plans on using similar consumer profiling and tracking expertise perfected on its site, GameSpot.com, which provides data for game makers and retailers to better position and sell their video and console games.
Projecting the interest and sale-ability of games "is what we do in games and we're going to do the exact same thing with TV," said Vince Broady, senior VP-games and entertainment at CNET. But for now, TV.com will start off as an ad-supported special-interest site.
TV.com is the new iteration of TVTome.com, a site that CNET bought from Collaborative Content in January. (It also bought MovieTome.com.) The first three advertisers, already CNET clients on other sites, are Discovery, HBO and Sony. Each will have exclusive one-day placements on the TV.com home page through a CNET-developed "skin" ad unit-a static, rich-media ad that surrounds the content on the page around the margins, with a leaderboard at top and bottom and an interactive placed unit within the content.
Some 3.5 million TV fans had registered on TVTome, according to CNET. The site features synopses and trivia from 2,500 TV series from the 1940s to the present. CNET has added to that, mirroring the user features on GameSpot.com, with places for users to rate shows, write reviews and commentary about programs and actors, start blogs, contribute to message boards, add to their own profiles, and see photos and video clips from TV shows. TV programming schedules specific to users' geographic areas will be added in a month or two.
As it does on its other properties, CNET will track visitors' behavior and package it for advertisers' targeted promotions. "We know a tremendous amount about what is being consumed, by whom, for how long and how often," said Barry Briggs, chief operating officer, CNET.
TV.com "is a much better advertising play than a data play," said Mike Voorhaus, managing director-media and entertainment research at consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates.
CNET is also the parent of special-interest sites MP3.com, Webshots and ZDNet. TV.com will expand CNET's demographic reach beyond the under-34, predominantly male users who frequent GameSpot.com and MP3.com. Half of TV.com's users are women.
"CNET's big issue is going to be how efficiently they can get people to come to the site," Mr. Voorhaus said. A $1 million online campaign in bartered media starts June 6, said Suzie Reider, VP-sales and marketing, CNET, along with a promotion on CNET sites.