CBS today opens a home page on the World Wide Web that includes a wide range of CBS entertainment, news, sports, corporate and marketing content, including promotions with CBS advertisers.
NBC, meanwhile, is taking advantage of the 'net's worldwide reach to establish a home page tied to one of its global entertainment brands: "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." The page will be launched this month.
Both efforts are an extension of the networks' work on commercial online services: CBS on Prodigy and NBC on America Online.
"CBS Eye on the Net" (http://www.cbs.com) features tidbits from several core CBS properties, including "Late Show With David Letterman"; "Late Late Show With Tom Snyder"; CBS News; and CBS Sports.
The area also has sections devoted to "Black Rock," with information on CBS Marketing programs; "Eyeware," downloadable video and audio clips and celebrity photos; "Eye on the Net Club," with access to special CBS software and participation in online focus groups and new show tests; and "Remotes," a link to the home pages of CBS advertisers and affiliates, such as KLAS, Las Vegas, and WTVF, Nashville.
"Jumping off the success of Prodigy, we learned a lot about interactivity online. This now takes us to the ultimate new technology at this time, the exciting world of the Internet," said George Schweitzer, CBS exec VP-marketing and communication. "What we see here is a very exciting new area for our programming and our advertisers."
Mr. Schweitzer said the Web site does not compete with CBS' Prodigy offerings.
"This is much more in-depth than what Prodigy was. Prodigy was our entry level. We will continue our Prodigy effort, but Prodigy hits one part of the online audience and the Internet's reach is unlimited," he said.
The site was created by CBS Marketing and Modem Media, Westport, Conn.
CBS plans to package interactive promotions with next season's upfront TV ad deals but is already working with a few select advertisers on promotions tied to the Grammy Awards and NCAA basketball that will run on both the Internet and Prodigy.
NBC's Web site, meanwhile, is one of three new interactive ventures the network is introducing during the first half to extend its reach after a successful launch last year on AOL.
Also this month, NBC will launch an electronic NBC Store on AOL that will sell both NBC-branded and non-branded merchandise. And on May 1, NBC will introduce an affinity marketing effort via a weekly e-mail service dubbed "NBC E-mail Xtra."
NBC hopes to forge a global link with viewers via its "Tonight Show" home page, an Internet service that will be updated daily to feature selected highlights from each day's show, including a downloadable, full-motion comedy bit such as Mr. Leno's monologue.
"There's nobody doing topical comedy on the Internet every day," said Alan Cohen, NBC exec VP-marketing. "We think the clip will be something we can build a cult following around."
He said NBC hopes to transmit updates early enough to provide Internet users with an exclusive preview of each night's show. The service is eventually expected to include ads, though details are not yet available.
NBC tapped the "Tonight Show" for its initial foray in part because the show is owned by NBC Productions and the network has direct control over the license.
But Mr. Cohen said the primary reason "Tonight" is the first venture is because the show has become one of NBC's most exported brands, reaching at least 160 million homes worldwide.
"Jay has a huge base of fans that watch his show in Europe. We know this because we've noticed that a lot of the messages we're getting online are from European fans," Mr. Cohen said.
On the domestic front, NBC will move into electronic retailing with the Feb. 13 debut of the NBC Store on NBC Online, the AOL site.
Initially, the area will offer a range of conventional NBC merchandise such as T-shirts, mugs, and computer screen savers and mouse pads from popular shows like "Seinfeld" and "Frasier." Non-branded merchandise will include music CDs and a line of trendy baseball caps.
"We still think more people will want to buy `Eddy' (the dog from "Frasier") T-shirts more than anything else, but we want to see what moves," said Mr. Cohen. "We think this could be an important new revenue stream for us."
The weekly online newsletter, "Xtra," will offer behind-the-scenes information on NBC shows and upcoming events. It will be sent directly to consumers who have access to e-mail.
The service was developed with help from CKS Interactive, Cupertino, Calif., NBC's interactive agency.
"We're very happy with what we've accomplished online, and this won't replace that, but we're interested in reaching as many consumers as we can," Mr. Cohen said.
"With an e-mail service you don't need to be connected to an online service. All you need is an e-mail address."
He estimated that since its launch on America Online, NBC Online has generated more than 1 million visits, but that "Xtra" will reach more people than that each week.
NBC plans to offer the service free to consumers who take it with advertising, but will charge about $10 per year for an ad-free version.
Mr. Cohen said NBC is still developing an advertising rate structure for the service. But it's likely to be more expensive on a cost-per-thousand basis than a conventional network TV buy.
Eventually, NBC hopes to customize the service and its advertising to appeal to niche audiences, producing a teen edition for younger viewers, for example.