NBC reboots Web plans as TV 360 evolves

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NBC is taking its "TV 360" approach for another spin.

The peacock will announce a broad set of bold changes to its Internet strategy today at its annual program development presentation to advertisers.

NBC.com will become the first broadcast Web site to adopt social-networking tools similar to those on MySpace, including the ability to embed NBC video clips outside the site.

In addition, the network is fine-tuning its media player, NBC Rewind, and revealing new online content to accompany its summer series, including a continuation of its multiplatform expansion of the hit "Heroes" even after the freshman season ends in May.

During a week in which each of the broadcasters hosts events offering a sneak peek at its primetime pilot choices, NBC also is putting its broadband menu in the spotlight. The goal is establishing a point of distinction among advertisers, who are increasingly interested in spreading their dollars across media.

TV 360 was introduced around this time last year as the rallying cry for distributing video on new platforms. Now TV 360 will evolve to supplement the viewing with the full range of activities Web surfers enjoy, said Jeff Gaspin, president of NBC Universal Cable and Digital Content.

"The whole goal then was to put television online," Gaspin said. "Now we want to make television its own unique experience online."

Beginning as early as June, NBC.com will allow users to embed video on their own sites, create profile pages to which they can upload videos of their own, launch fan groups and receive viewing recommendation from like-minded users.

The social-networking tools will be available only via registration, a key selling point to advertisers looking for users' demographic and behavioral-targeting data.

In keeping with NBC.com's social orientation, even the video player will now incorporate a chat function that allows fellow viewers to communicate together as they watch. The player, which still will be known as NBC Rewind, also will be redesigned to exhibit video in a larger format and a new window that will stream text commentary pertaining to the video being viewed.

NBC also is expanding its "Heroes 360" experience, which was introduced midseason to expand the presence of the hit rookie series. After "Heroes" finishes its run in May, a graphic novel that plays off its story lines will continue, and a new video series that goes behind the scenes of the "Heroes" production will be introduced.

The expansion is being fueled by the healthy reception "Heroes 360" has gotten since coming to the Internet and mobile in late January. NBC is set to report that "Heroes 360" has generated 7 million unique visitors and 27 million video streams.

Other summer series that will get companion content includes new seasons of "America's Got Talent," "Last Comic Standing" and the untitled new series featuring Victoria "Posh" Beckham.

While NBC.com's social-networking tools have been in development for eight months, Gaspin noted that users might find these tools useful at a time when uncertainty looms over the status of programming online because of the tension between media companies and online hubs like Google's YouTube.

"Since we own our own content, and it's not always available where they want it, I think it's important than we give the kind of tools they want, especially if the content is going to be proprietary," Gaspin said.

But he stopped short of suggesting that NBC.com's capabilities had anything to do with persistent rumors that NBC Uni and fellow media conglomerates would band together to create an online alternative to YouTube.

"This has nothing to do with that," Gaspin said. "If it happens, that is a total separate thing."
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