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NBC.com reprograms--for Net

Network television goes into reruns for the summer, but NBC.com is set to announce its new online programming for June, July, and August.

Network television goes into reruns for the summer, but NBC.com, the online arm of the TV network, is slated to announce tomorrow that it will offer new online programming in June, July, and August.

Topping the NBC.com summer lineup is June's launch of Late Night with Conan O'Brien Online, currently in beta testing on NBC's Web site. Like other NBC online programs, the online version of O'Brien's show includes both new material and some that is repurposed from the TV show.

NBC boasts multiple online initiatives, including its MSNBC joint venture with Microsoft.

NBC isn't the only TV network making an online push. On April 30, ABC parent Disney bought out partner Starwave from their online sports joint venture, Starwave-ESPN.

Fox also has been active in the online space. Earlier this month, Fox News Online introduced customizable streaming video newscasts, and Fox Broadcasting debuted streaming video TV show previews on the TV Guide Entertainment Network.

NBC's online lineup includes Homicide: Second Shift, its longest-running online programming; The Pretender Adventure; Saturday Night Live Online, which was launched earlier this month with streaming video; Tonight Show with Jay Leno Online; and Saturday Night Live Online.

NBC's teen-oriented At The Max site, launched in September 1997, plays off TNBC's Saturday morning shows including Saved by the Bell: The New Class. It also will get new programming over the next three months.

NBC also runs a Net store to sell its home videos and memorabilia. In fact, last month's promotion of a home video version of NBC's Merlin miniseries generated more than 100,000 orders, divided between phone and Web sales.

"We are excited about how in the convergence space we have the ability to marry calls to action on air to complete transactions online," said Shawn Hardin, vice president of NBC digital productions. "You will see more and more of those married offers."

NBC's online strategy aims not only to leverage its core TV and film businesses online but to build new franchises for the company, Hardin said. In fact, NBC.com has its own sales force to sell ads and sponsorships, rather than relying on TV network buys.

The summer season will be built with technical services and Internet production from USWeb, an Internet professional services firm. The four-year NBC contract, USWeb's longest, is slated to produce $10 million in revenue, making it the fifth biggest customer on the young company's customer list.

NBC also has an option to buy a 3.8 percent stake in USWeb within the next 18 months. NBC has made similar minority investments in the Mining Company, a network of special-interest sites, in January, and in online chat community Talk City in March.

But USWeb chief executive Joe Firmage stressed that NBC will retain artistic control, with its producers continuing to supervise the production process.

USWeb will service NBC through its USWeb Studio unit. Both sides will contribute staff and resources to the production effort, and they will offer services to NBC's owned and affiliated stations nationwide.