NBC has passed the Web site operations tied to its local TV
stations to Internet Broadcasting Systems, a move intended to push more
viewers and advertisers to the news sites.
Under the deal, announced Thursday, the companies said Internet
Broadcasting, which runs a network of sites for news channels, will operate
Web sites for NBC's local stations. However, General Electric-owned NBC
will retain control of the editorial content. NBC's TV stations division
owns and operates 13 stations across the country, including WNBC in New York, KNBC in Los Angeles, WMAQ in Chicago and WCAU in Philadelphia.
An NBC spokeswoman said the company expects all 30 NBC employees at station
Web sites to continue working for the sites as Internet Broadcasting
employees. She added that the 17 sales-staff members who work for the local
TV sites will remain NBC employees.
"Bringing the best news coverage to the communities we serve is a top
priority for NBC," David Overbeeke, senior vice president of e-business at
the company's TV stations division, said in a statement. "We've found that
combining the power and reach of television with the interactivity of the
Internet is an ideal way to achieve that goal."
The announcement comes shortly after many broadcasters saw huge jumps in
traffic at news-focused Web sites, as people sought up-to-the-moment
coverage of last month's jetliner hijackings and their aftermath. During
the week of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, news hubs such as
ABCNews.com, CNN.com and The New York Times site became inaccessible with the huge influx of
Despite an increased interest in online news, Jarvis Mak, an analyst at
measurement service Nielsen/NetRatings, says local TV stations' fiercest
competition for Web-based viewers may be old adversaries: newspapers.
"As far as local TV stations being an up-to-date presence (online), I think
they would have a hard time competing initially with the newspapers because
newspapers are more commonly seen as the go-to source for local
information," Mak said.
NBC and Internet Broadcasting, however, are betting that the partnership
will help the network entice larger local audiences with the latest
headlines. The companies are also hoping advertisers will see an
opportunity to reach local audiences with integrated TV and Web campaigns.
"At a time when dot-coms are facing a real struggle and the media
landscape is looking at redefining itself, we're so pleased...to be growing
and not going in the other way," said Reid Johnson, president of Internet
Founded in 1996, Internet Broadcasting, which has headquarters in New York
and Minneapolis, is owned by broadcasters including Hearst-Argyle,
Post-Newsweek, McGraw-Hill and CanWest Global.