Revamp brings animation, MP3s, games, shows
DEN is trying again.The Gen Y-targeted Netcaster hopes its revamped site, launching today with more branded entertainment, will help it climb out of the red and gain cool points among its many critics and its audience. “We’re launching a site that is about 100% deeper than what we had before,” said David Neuman, prexy and head of creative programming for Santa Monica-based Digital Entertainment Network. “We’re adding a tremendous amount of content.” Where DEN 1.0 was geared toward high-speed Internet users and boasted video-based content, the new site features more flash animation, MP3s (through a deal with MP3.com), interactive games (it has the largest Quake server on the West Coast), user-submitted content, an original slate of niche-oriented shows produced in-house, as well as film reviews and other content from newly acquired site TheFilmGeek.com. Besides channels for entertainment, music and sports, site will also feature the Quad, a lifestyle destination for college students with message boards, mentorship opportunities and games. Although DEN’s new business plan does not include the production of new shows inhouse (over 100 staffers from canceled shows were axed), new segs of its original lineup of strips, including extreme sporter “Aggronation,” college-based “Frat Ratz” and sudsers “Redemption High” and “Tales of the East Side,” will still air. “We only put up a third of the content that we originally produced,” Neuman said. “We still reserve the right to continue to produce our original shows. Before, we did everything ourselves and owned everything. It became too expensive.” New biz model, which calls for the acquisition of entertainment content from outside creators and celebs, will enable DEN to reap more revenues from advertising and merchandising. Additional new series to air include “The Fat Kid Network,” “In the Den,” hosted by former Channel One and “TV.com” host Justin Gunn, and four video and animated shows from comedy helmer, producer and scripter Steve Oedekerk (“Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”), including “World Thumb Wrestling.” Music section’s growth was spearheaded by chairman Gary Gersh and partner John Silva’s backgrounds as managers for Beck, the Foo Fighters and Sonic Youth, among others. Much of the new content will bow over the next 60 days, DEN said, adding that rumors that the company doesn’t have enough funding to operate into next month are false. DEN promises that anyone who comes to the site will be able to view its contents. “Even though DEN was conceived as a broadband experience, we had so many people come to the site who couldn’t experience it with slow connections,” Neuman said. “We adjusted accordingly.” Relaunch comes as DEN has been attacked for its money mismanagement and management sex scandals. But although DEN isn’t trying to erase the past (its site spoofs a recent cover story in the Los Angeles Times), DEN’s execs say that the company is here to stay and has learned from its mistakes.
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