Shopping net renamed, Web site to be launched

NBC and partner ValueVision Intl. said Wednesday that ValueVision’s home shopping cable network will soon be called SnapTV — the first time a cable channel has been named, or renamed in this case, after an existing Internet property.

The announcement wasn’t the larger deal many were expecting of NBC — buying 32% of Paxson Communications. This could come today and is likely to have provisions bound to rile NBC affiliates — including one that might let NBC shows run several days later on Paxson stations.

NBC and ValueVision said they also plan to launch a companion web site called SnapTV.com that will work on marketing initiatives with NBC Internet, or NBCi, a new three-way venture created by Snap.com, Xoom.com and some of the Peacock’s online assets.

The move to rebrand ValueVision in six to nine months is the latest in a stream of deals in which NBC is investing in various online and related businesses, and tying them together to create a ‘Net strategy.

Making sense

“We don’t want to invest in free-standing pieces. …We want to integrate and coordinate in a way that makes sense,” said Tom Rogers, president of NBC cable and business development.

Snap.com, a large Internet portal, will be NBCi’s primary consumer brand. ValueVision and Snap execs said during a conference call that renaming ValueVision and its Web site is a good way to expand the audience for both of their businesses.

“We can leverage the brand affinity developed over the past year or so by Snap,” said ValueVision chairman-CEO Gene McCaffery. With the online group’s expertise, the new SnapTV and SnapTV.com can provide enhanced online shopping, streaming video, live auctions on TV and online and other features. McCaffery said ValueVision will look to update its offerings, the typical staid fare of a home shopping network, to appeal to Snap and Xoom’s younger and hipper customer base.

These sites, meanwhile, will have access to ValueVision’s 32 million households and 1.5 million customers.

“It’s cross-pollination. You expand your reach so you both win. We help ValueVision into the Web business. ValueVision expands our brand to a universe of people who haven’t seen it before,” said Chris Kitze, the chairman of Xoom.com who will become CEO of NBCi once the merger is approved by shareholders of the companies involved.

Cross-promotion opportunities across all the properties abound. The participants see lots of upside revenue potential and noted that setting up a site like SnapTV.com — or even an NBCi — isn’t expensive since the ventures “are all leveraging assets we already own that we’ve already paid for,” Kitze said.

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