Television Without Pity bought by cable station

NBC U’s Bravo has snapped up snarky TV criticism Web site Television Without Pity, adding it to the cabler’s growing collection of online brands.

TWOP, whose tagline is “Spare the snark, spoil the networks,” is well-known in TV industry circles for its detailed episode recaps and its deep online community of small-screen geeks devoted to dissecting the finer points of their fave skeins from all the networks.

Producers and execs with masochistic tendencies have also been known to lurk in the forums, sometimes driving themselves crazy listening to the fan feedback.

All these characteristics made TWOP a ripe candidate for purchase by the pop-culture-driven Bravo. Cabler has been building up its digital and broadband properties, recently launching getTrio.com, an online reinvention of the former cable channel Trio.

Bottom line: Bravo prexy Lauren Zalaznick is no longer satisfied creating obsessive fans with shows such as “Project Runway” and “Top Chef.” Now she wants those TV geeks to do their kvetching on a Web site she owns.

“If Television Without Pity didn’t exist, we would have built it,” said Bravo exec VP Jason Klarman, who’s at the center of Bravo’s online strategy. Klarman said the purchase will change the Bravo digital suite services overnight by nearly doubling, to more than 2 million, the number of unique visitors to Bravo-owned online sites.

Klarman said Bravo would use its ad sales muscle to begin luring advertising from networks and others looking to court TWOP’s tube-savvy users.

Zalaznick said she has no plans to snap up any sites for film or music buffs, though she didn’t rule anything out. She said she wants the cabler and its Web sites to speak to people who, like many TWOP visitors, don’t necessarily watch a lot of TV, but who get worked up over the shows they do watch.

TWOP, in its current form, was born in 2002. Its roots stretch back to 1998, when co-founders Tara Ariano and Sarah D. Bunting launched a site devoted to dissecting “Dawson’s Creek.”

Ariano and Bunting will remain as editors of TWOP, overseeing all content. Bravo execs said the site will maintain complete editorial independence, despite now being a tiny division of General Electric.

That means NBC U will now be in position to provide a forum for rants against Peacock shows such as “Deal or No Deal” (“I guess Americans would watch shit float if it were a gameshow,” wrote one TWOP member) or Bravo’s own “Top Design” (“I can’t decide if he’s more RoboHost, CyborgHost, or HoloHost,” one TWOP-er said of host Todd Oldham).

“They get what we do,” Bunting said.

No massive changes are planned to the site in the near future, though Ariano and Bunting are looking to start recapping more shows and add more video and audio content. Look for links to other Bravo sites, as well as content such as “Fall Deathwatch” (a betting pool for new shows) to migrate to TWOP.

As for a TWOP-branded TV show, “There’s no reason not to, but it wasn’t built into the original plan,” Zalaznick said.

Bravo’s other Web assets include BrilliantButCancelled.com, OUTzoneTV.com and BravoTV.com. Deal for TWOP also includes the site Fametracker.com.

Financial terms of the pact were not disclosed.

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