HBO comedy site shut down

This Just In offered celebrity riffs, comic videos

This Just In, the comedy site HBO envisioned as both a brand extension and a potential development pipeline, is being shut down just six months after launching.

Time Warner will unwind the venture over the next few weeks, with the site expected to be fully closed sometime in August.

HBO announced the site in late 2006 to much fanfare, saying it would allow advertisers to work with the company and also serve as a breeding ground for new talent. Former Icebox CEO Steve Sanford was brought in to run the site, which offered a mix of celebrity riffs and goofy videos from assorted standup comics.

New-media exec veep Carmi Zlotnick said at the time that the net hoped to create “a robust destination that can have the potential of becoming part of the watercooler pop culture like many of our network programs have become.”

But the site, which was a joint venture with AOL (and replaced that company’s existing comedy channel), never got off the ground. It suffered from what some visitors said was a confusing layout as well as a lack of marketing exposure.

Sanford reportedly left the site several months ago, and longtime HBO vet Zlotnick ankled the pay net last month along with Jim Moloshok, the digital topper brought in by former CEO Chris Albrecht.

Departures were the result of a split in HBO’s approach to the digital world; some execs argued in favor of capitalizing on the online ad boom with new ancillary businesses, while others advocated using new media to extend the net’s core brand and products.

HBO is now thought to be taking the latter approach under new co-prexy Eric Kessler. Company has been developing a broadband site together with cable operators that will allow users to access on-demand programming via the Web.

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