News corp. today unveils its formal--and hopefully
final--repositioning of the iGuide Web service, now
dubbed TV Guide
discord for MCI, News Corp. venture
Search AdAge.com for more related articles.
Finally realizing what others learned months ago about
the power of brands on the Web, News. Corp.'s new service
its backbone TV Guide, the nation's largest
magazine with a paid circulation of 13 million.
The redesigned free service, located at HREF="http://www.tvguide.com">http://www.tvguide.com
HREF="http://www.tvguide.com">http://www.tvguide.com, focuses on four content areas: TV, of course, along with
music, movies and sports (the latter drawing heavily on
News Corp. brand, Fox Sports). It will also offer 132
TV Guide's weekly listings, organized by market
cable company; free e-mail updates for users who register
viewing preferences; a database of movie information;
and a chat
room built to accommodate 5,000 simultaneous users.
"Most of the traffic on iGuide came to branded
environments, like Fox Sports and TV Guide," said
the company's 24-year-old VP-music and new media, and son
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch.
A LONG TWO YEARS
TV Guide has wrestled over the past two years to
position itself within News Corp.'s stable of
properties. Early con-cepts for the magazine's digital
involved bundling discs with editions of the magazine and
it as a standalone online property, possibly at a premium
But as News Corp. formed a joint venture with MCI
Com-munications Corp., TV Guide's freedom as a
digital brand became
bound by corporate contracts and plans for News Corp.
that shifted alongside the com-pany's fickle list of
TV Guide at one point slipped completely from
view, falling behind the broad heading of "TV" on the home
"We were all they had, and they hid us," said a former
executive with iGuide, which News Corp had hoped would be a
entertainment information destination on the Web.
While the iGuide name hasn't disappeared
altogether--"there are some ideas being bandied around"
about what to do with
it, said Mr. Murdoch--starting today, those who point
browsers to HREF="http://www.iguide.com">iGuide
redirected to the TV Guide Entertainment Network.
Softbank Interactive Marketing will represent the site
to advertisers and develop interactive marketing for it.
News Corp. has allocated a marketing budget of less than $5
million to the site's relaunch.
Of the nine current advertisers on iGuide, so far only
Ziff-Davis and Primestar are committed to sponsoring the
site. The site will charge a $25 cost per thousand (or a
$6,200 monthly) through June, said Tom Biggs, senior VP of
Guide Entertainment Network.
Supporters of TV Guide--according to Mr. Biggs,
there are at least one million users visiting the iGuide
monthly--are satisfied the company finally put the brand
Indeed, WebTV Networks and TV Guide Entertainment
finalized a deal on Jan. 8 to give the site premium
positioning on WebTV
But detractors say the launch is way overdue. TV Guide had
capabilities to launch 120 or more listings editions
online as early as
February 1996, according to one former iGuide employee,
put these offerings online because the company wanted to
develop a revenue model from them.
GIST A COMPETITOR
Since then, competitor HREF="http://www.gist.com">Gist Communications
launched its service in September
with free TV listings organized by time zone and top city
markets. The company also began offering multimedia
for marketers who want to let users sample TV shows. It will
expand its listings to cover 90% of the country this year.
Copyright January 1997, Crain Communications