U S West joins the rush to provide local content

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U S West Media Group this week launches its regional online service, dubbed DiveIn.

Bowing initially in 10 cities including Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles, the service on April 1 will break an online and regional ad campaign by Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York. Billings are estimated at $1 million.

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"Our focus is on grassroots efforts to attract the attention of local residents," said Meredith Flynn-Ripley, VP-product development at U S West. "Obviously, regional services can only thrive with the support from their local constituency, so we'll be promoting our service heavily to them."

DiveIn has formed alliances with national and local content providers including HotWired, SportsLine USA, Quote.com, H.O.T! Coupons and the Weather Channel.


Each regional version allows for individual customization and is broken down into 10 categories including sports, entertainment, lifestyle and business. U S West Communications--a separate division--offers an Internet access product called Interact. The two services will not be bundled.

DiveIn plans to offer opportunities for both local and national advertising and has tapped Web rep firm Burst Media to handle national banner sales priced at about $34 per thousand impressions.

Local sales and non-banner ad deals will be handled internally.

Although no advertisers have yet signed on to the service, advertising is expected to create the majority of revenue for DiveIn; the service plans to introduce transactions down the road. Local ad rates and sponsorship prices haven't been established, said Lance Podell, director of business development/national content and advertising.

Surprisingly, DiveIn has formed a content alliance with Yahoo!, which many would view as a competitor to the service. Yahoo! has ambitious plans of its own for the regional market, already touting such services as Yahoo! Chicago, Yahoo! New York and Yahoo! Los Angeles.


"There's room in this market for more than one player," said Mr. Podell. "We believe in `coopetition' and think we can be both a partner and a competitor with certain providers."

Microsoft's Sidewalk, America Online's Digital City, CitySearch and services offered by other regional Bell companies all also hope to compete in the regional game.

Additional launch cities for DiveIn include: Denver; Detroit; Phoenix, Ariz.; Seattle; Minneapolis; Portland, Ore.; and Jacksonville, Fla.

Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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