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Online TV stores pull the plug

WHN.com says that its e-commerce unit, which served Hollywood and media companies, has shut down, and its other service may also close shop.

WHN.com said Wednesday that its e-commerce unit, which served Hollywood and media companies, has shut down, and its other service may also close shop.

Marina del Rey, Calif.-based WHN.com, also known as WhatsHotNow.com, ran online stores for a long list of media companies including ABC, Fox, MTV, Comedy Central, NBC and TV Guide. As first reported by Dotcom Scoop, those companies posted notices that their e-commerce operations would be temporarily suspended.

"WHN.com has two business units," said WHN.com CEO Robert Fried. "WHN Solutions, which...serviced the Hollywood community--those stores have been shut down."

The company's other business, WHN Exchange, a business-to-business marketplace, is still operating "but may soon be shut down," he added. Sites that WHN.com touted as partners through its WHN Exchange business are operational, including Anheuser-Busch and BlueLight.com.

Fried said the company has been downsizing in the last eight months from its peak of 230 employees to the current staff of 15. The Academy Award-winning producer and former CEO of Savoy Pictures founded WHN.com, which launched its first client Web site in July 1996.

As previously reported, Comedy Central said the closure of WHN.com's e-commerce unit has forced it to look for a new partner for its online store.

The cable TV network posted a sign on its Web site, saying that its store is "closed for renovations." ABC, Fox and MTV.com hung similar notices on their Web stores.

Comedy Central said it was notified last week by WHN.com that it needed to find another recourse to sell its products.

"Things tend to happen quickly when they happen," said Kenneth Locker, senior vice president of new media at Comedy Central. "We obviously have to find another vendor, (and) we're in the process. We have a number of solutions in the very near future, and we will implement them."

The cable TV station said it has numerous product orders and will send them all out as it searches for another distributor.

NBC.com also said Monday that its online store would not take new orders for a few weeks. It does plan to fulfill orders that have been already placed "as soon as possible," according to a notice on the NBC Superstore site, and to find a new distributor.

TV Guide also informed its customers that its store is temporarily closed for renovations.

"Like most of your favorite television programs at this time of year, we are temporarily 'on hiatus' in order to make updates and improvements," the TV Guide Web site reads. "We appreciate your business, and we look forward to serving you with our new and improved Store...If you recently placed an order with the TV Guide Store, please be patient as we try to fulfill your order in a timely fashion."