NBC Calls iVillage Buy an Advertiser Win

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NBC Universal properties and iVillage.com advertisers are expected to benefit from new traffic driven to the site by the media company's television shows, NBC Universal executives said yesterday after its $600 million acquisition of iVillage.

NBC and Universal will begin promoting iVillage immediately on their television properties, driving traffic to the largest women's online community.

"It matches up perfectly with our target audience across all of our properties, whether it's news, network or cable. We think there is an opportunity to drive both brands," Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC Universal Television Group, said in a conference call with analysts.

Zucker cited NBC's "The Biggest Loser" program, NBC News' programming, Bravo's "Project Runway" and NBC Universal's healthcare programming as examples of content that could be used on iVillage.

"That's going to create an immediacy, a reason to come to iVillage every day. That's what is going to pull this into the next level," Doug McCormick, chairman/CEO of iVillage, said during the call.

IVillage is an "advertising friendly" property, said Bob Wright, vice chairman and executive officer of General Electric, which owns 80 percent of NBC Universal.

"They have experience in online sales and marketing," Wright said. "They know how to create and sustain communities, and we know how to create great content. Together, we should give advertisers a unique opportunity to connect with their target audiences."

In addition, iVillage's consistent base of 14 million unique users commands premium ad prices, according to a statement from NBC Universal. As a result, NBC Universal expects to increase its digital revenue to about $200 million in 2006. IVillage's rich content channels span categories including health/well-being, entertainment and beauty/style.

While it has "flown under the radar" for the past few years, iVillage has built a strong business and one of the most "consistent places for marketers to be able to ... reach women online," said Debra Aho Williamson, senior analyst with online market research firm eMarketer, New York.

Aho Williamson said that iVillage.com, whose revenue rose about 30 percent in 2005, likely was attractive to NBC Universal not only because of its audience base but also its broadband video technology.

"IVillage has invested a lot in broadband video capabilities," she said. "That was really smart, since that is now the rage among programmers."

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