How much would you pay to join a site dedicated to O.J. Simpson?
Web hosting company Entertainment Network Inc., Tampa, FL, thinks $9.95 per month ought to do it for the ability to engage Simpson in live chat sessions and to purchase autographed items from an online store.
AskOJ.com is already on the Web with limited services, including a sports ticker by SportsFeed.com and an opt-in e-mail notification system about upcoming site events. It will go live on July 27 at 6 p.m. EST when Simpson hosts a live question-and-answer session, said David Marshlack, Entertainment Network's president/CEO.
Television, radio and newspaper exposure is pulling people to the site. “He [Simpson] has been talking about the site in public to generate traffic,” Marshlack said. “We're averaging a couple of thousand hits per day.”
ENI will do some affiliate marketing to promote the site, but Marshlack seemed confident that public interest in the events surrounding Simpson and the slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman in June 1994 would drive sufficient numbers to the site. Simpson was found not guilty of their murders in October 1994.
“AskOJ.com will enable me to speak directly to the public without interference,” Simpson said in a statement. “The main purpose is to answer questions and to bring out facts that have been ignored. Who knows, it may also open up avenues that could lead to the discovery of the murderer or murderers.”
Simpson has promised to Webcast a live lie detector test once a decision is reached in his appeal of a civil suit that found him liable for the slayings.
Marshlack said Entertainment Network would promote AskOJ through its other sites, which include VoyeurDorm.com, an around-the-clock Webcast of the lives of female college students in their Tampa, FL, house, and DudeDorm.com, which follows the lives of male students.
“We control a lot of traffic, we can direct traffic, and we're getting a lot of publicity,” Marshlack said.
A portion of profits from the site will go to three charities in the names of Simpson's children. Funds will go to Camp Good Times, which aids cancer-stricken children; the Innocence Project, which provides pro bono legal assistance to inmates challenging convictions based on DNA evidence; and Project Headway, which supports victims of brain trauma.
But Marshlack is not trying to fool anyone.
“Naturally, we are in it for the money,” he said.