MSN loses another exclusive

Entertainment Tonight joins Star Trek in its move onto the Web from proprietary service Microsoft Network.

Paul Festa Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Paul Festa
covers browser development and Web standards.
Paul Festa
Similar to Star Trek, Entertainment Tonight isn't just for MSN users anymore.

Today, Paramount Digital Entertainment announced the Web debut of Entertainment Tonight. Its exclusive deal with MSN expired at the end of the year. The Web launch of Star Trek: Continuum, Paramount's other popular site, was announced earlier this month. (See related story)

MSN had been moving some content to the Web even before Paramount withdrew its sites from the proprietary online service. But the Web-based content of Star Trek and ET Online remained exclusive to users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, angering users of Netscape Communications' Navigator browser.

Even now, the sites contain some content that is only viewable with IE.

"Navigator users are not getting as great an experience as we would like them to have, because the sites have been developed for the past two years wholly for IE," said Paramount Digital president David Wertheimer. "But we have a major redesign that is in full swing right now to bring all the functionality to the Navigator users."

Paramount Digital opted to partner with MSN a year and a half ago because the online service offered opportunities for property development, distribution, and marketing, Wertheimer said. The growth of the Net and complaints from fans who were not MSN users persuaded the company to let the contract expire, he said.

In the month since the two shows left MSN, traffic has increased "by an order of magnitude," he said.