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Epicurious to launch TV show

In the latest example of TV and Net convergence, the popular food site will become a show on cable TV, its parent company says.

In yet another example of television converging with the Internet and PCs, CondéNet's Epicurious Food will launch a spin-off television program on the Discovery Channel next year.

The show, dubbed Epicurious TV, is slated for an initial 18 original episodes, and is scheduled to air in the fourth quarter of 1998.

Although the series marks the Discovery Channel's first foray into culinary programming, it is in at least one sense a natural progression, as CondéNet is a subsidiary of Advance Publications, which also owns 25 percent of the Discovery Channel.

The advertising-driven television series will be shot on location throughout the United States, and will focus on all aspects of food history, preparation, and presentation.

The series is being produced as a joint venture between the Discovery Channel and CondéNet, and will be overseen by Chuck Gingold, senior vice president and general manager of daytime programming for Discovery Networks, as well as Sarah Chubb, director of CondéNet.

CondéNet is claiming that Epicurious Food is the first Web site to spawn a companion television program. Although many television shows have launched companion Internet sites, Epicurious TV will be the first television program to ride the coattails of a successful Internet property.

"One of the challenges of being a Web company is how do you get known by the larger public as they are coming online?" said Chubb. "If you're smart about the way you produce both media products, they end up being stronger together than they are individually."

As the line continues to blur between PCs and television, mixed media ventures such as Epicurious TV will no doubt become more common. "If you believe, as most do, that ultimately there will be some kind of convergence between the computer and the television, then what we've done is taken the approach that the Web is an exceptional tool, a huge resource," said Chubb.

CondéNet and the Discovery Channel will be attempting to attract the same enviable demographic group to the television show that visits the Web site, namely affluent, educated females. Chubb pointed out that Epicurious TV is in a unique position of being able to offer sponsorship packages that may include television, Internet, and print advertising in some Condé Nast publications, which include Vogue, Vanity Fair, House & Garden, and Bride.

"The revenue opportunities could be quite significant," said Chubb.

Women are becoming a desirable demographic all over the Web. Jupiter Communications estimates that 34 million women will be on the Net by the year 2000, which would make them more than 46 percent of the total online population. This week, America Online's Greenhouse Networks launched a women's site called Electra, joining a slew of sites designed for women, such as the Women's Wire sites and women's search directory The Women's Online Network.