Online-born brands extend to mainstream

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For both consumers and advertisers, the Web's a natural extension of offline media programming. The brand recognition built through traditional channels carries over to virtual channels.

Now, however, more properties born online are moving to traditional channels., a Web-based source of financial news and commentary, teams with News Corp.'s Fox News Channel to launch July 17 the TV version of, a half-hour, weekly show about investing. The show will be co-produced by and News Corp., which owns about 10% of the online financial site.


The show has already garnered advertiser interest: E*Trade Group signed a one-year agreement as the show's exclusive national brokerage sponsor. The show will pull content from both the Fox News and sites. is not the first online property Fox News has brought to TV. Last year, the company launched "Drudge," a TV show built around modern-day muckraker Matt Drudge's site, The Drudge Report. The weekly show features Mr. Drudge's interviews with media insiders and celebrities.

Fox News Network CEO Roger Ailes said moving these online properties to TV was a natural migration, propelled by the personalities that guide them. "[The shows] are both driven by stars of the Internet [ co-founder James Cramer and The Drudge Report's Matt Drudge]. The real beginning of convergence is the overlapping of personalities that drive this business," Mr. Ailes said.

Those personalities, because they work well both online and on TV, will attract viewers, he said. "There's a certain demographic for []--younger, smarter, richer or motivated to get rich. We think we will do well with people interested in how to make money."


Other Web sites with a presence on TV include CondeNet's food and cooking site, whose "Epicurious" TV show recently received Discovery Channel's go-ahead for a second season of 18 episodes.

Last year, Ziff-Davis and backer Softbank Corp. opened ZDTV, meshing the cable channel with content on ZDNet, a computing and technology news site.

And last month, CNET, a company that produces both online and TV technology-related programming, announced plans to fully integrate its TV and online content to help consumers make informed computer-buying decisions. CNET also is creating a one-hour weekly series for CNBC to debut in October.

Migrating online properties to TV appears to make sense from an audience perspective, according to a recent study from Showtime Networks and Paul Kagan Associates.

The study demonstrates a rise in media convergence. It found that in one-quarter of households nationwide, about 23 million PCs and TVs are placed in the same room. Viewers in nearly 80% of those households watch TV and surf the Web simultaneously, the study found.

This study, backed by a cable network, showed that the Internet so far is supplementing, rather than eroding, TV viewing.


"The Internet is not exclusive, it's inclusive," said Paul Turcotte, publisher of Yahoo! Internet Life, a Ziff-Davis magazine about using the Internet in daily life. "It doesn't replace, it enhances."

Online properties aren't just expanding to TV. Garden Escape is a magazine that builds on the content of an online companion, in this case, gardening site Garden.-com. And online auction site eBay, together with Krause Publications, plans to launch eBay Magazine in September.

At the end of June, Microsoft Corp. launched Expedia Radio, a one-hour, weekly radio program about travel that is designed to augment online travel service MSN Expedia. Expedia Radio is airing on radio stations in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Seattle.

"It's the perfect complement to the Web site," said Renee Russak, group manager of programming for MSN Expedia, of the show. "It gives MSN Expedia a voice to help us reach out to our audience."

It's an effective brand extension, too, said MSN Expedia Product Manager Suzi LeVine. "It's a great way for us to share all of our assets online in a richer multimedia space," she said.


The extension to radio will create new media buying opportunities for advertisers.

"The program is funded by ad revenue," Ms. Russak said. "There's a great opportunity to create cross-media buys. AT&T Corp. is our first sponsor. They have a core sponsorship position on the radio show plus they are the sponsor of [related] pages on MSN Expedia as well as a number of ad impressions across MSN Expedia."

Fox News is courting additional advertisers as sponsors for TV show, said Paul Rittenberg, senior-VP, advertising sales at Fox News Channel.

"So far, there's been a lot of [advertiser] demand," Mr. Rittenberg said.

Potential advertisers for the show are in the telecommunications, luxury automobile and computer markets, he said. The show will be most attractive to advertisers seeking to reach an "upscale, high net-worth audience of active investors," Mr. Rittenberg said.

Stretching programming across media is a great way to capitalize on a brand's strength, Yahoo! Internet Life's Mr. Turcotte said.

"Whenever you can build a strong brand that has a following and trust, it makes it easy to transfer or expand that in other areas," he said.

"We'll see more of this. And I predict that in 18 months, we will see an e-commerce site launched solely online open up a brick-and-mortar store," Mr. Turcotte said. "Once you have the brand, you want to expand that relationship as much as you can."

Copyright July 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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