Inside Move: USA getting social online

Net launches social networking Web site

USA is about to unveil its own online social networking hub, It’s the first to be launched by a TV network.

While congloms shell out millions gobbling up existing Web communities (NBC Universal with iVillage; Viacom with and iFilm; News Corp. with, USA is creating its own online destination where viewers can interact. will allow users to create profiles, upload video and, most important for the network, gather in fan communities for series like “Monk,” “Nashville Star” and “The 4400.” Site is tied to USA’s “Characters Welcome” branding campaign, which is meant to create a distinct identity for the general entertainment net in the overpopulated cable space.

Coin for the project, launching March 20, comes out of the reported $8 million USA budgeted last year for the marketing of its redesign and new tagline.

To help promote the, USA will launch on-air and grassroots efforts.

In the “Show Us Your Character” contest, USA execs will select the country’s most unusual character from the site’s user profiles. Winner will be the center of a Web series as well as a national on-air campaign. He or she also will appear in movie theaters AMC, Cinemark and Regal Entertainment Group’s FirstLook movie pre-show.

Cabler will send videographers to the streets of major markets to recruit people to the service. Mobile kiosks also will be set up across the country armed with computers and Webcams to attract passersby to sign up.

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