iVillage Heads to Daytime

May 15, 2006  •  Post A Comment

It’s going to take an iVillage to program daytime at the NBC Universal Television Stations this fall.

The NBC Universal stations are banding together to produce a daytime series with female-skewing Web site iVillage.com, which NBC Universal acquired for $600 million in March, sources close to the production said.

The project, called “iVillage Live,” will be produced by the stations, not their corporate supplier of syndicated product, NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution.

The new series is expected to replace the syndication division’s reality strip “Starting Over” on the NBC stations that carry the self-help show. “Starting Over” is not expected to return for a fourth season this fall, but a spokesman for NBCU Domestic Television Distribution said, “No decision has been made on a fourth season” for the show. A spokesman for Bunim-Murray Productions, which produces “Starting Over,” declined to comment.

The new series, “iVillage Live,” will be shot in Orlando, Fla., at the NBC Universal-owned Universal Studios theme park. The show is expected to incorporate a number of interactive elements that can be accessed through iVillage.com, which will be used to promote the television series. It was not clear at press time whether any on-air talent has been lined up for “iVillage Live” or whether the show’s episodes will be an hour or a half-hour long.

The show will be shot live for the East Coast and tape-delayed for the West Coast. It marks the first iVillage-branded television series from NBC Universal since the announcement of the acquisition, which was approved by iVillage shareholders last Friday.

A spokeswoman for the NBCU Television stations declined to comment. A spokesman for iVillage could not be reached for comment.

Without knowing more about the show’s format or its host, it is difficult to assess how “iVillage Live” might work in the marketplace, said John Rash, senior VP and director of broadcast operations for ad agency Campbell Mithun. But the project sounds like a natural evolution of the relationship between NBCU and its new Web asset, he said.

“This is the inevitable iteration of the nets moving to multimedia platforms, and if successful it could become a television template for NBC [Universal] and its competition,” Mr. Rash said. “Ultimately for viewers, what’s most important is entertainment, and the show still needs to deliver on that basis to work.”

“Starting Over” runs on many, but not all, NBCU-owned stations, such as WNBC-TV in New York and KABC-TV in Los Angeles (where it airs at noon local time), and on Tribune-owned WGN-TV in Chicago (where it airs at 2 p.m.).

The NBC Universal stations already have a pretty full daytime lineup with NBC Universal’s “Martha,” the upcoming Megan Mullally talk strip and Warner Bros.’ “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

Developed to bring in a younger female audience, “Starting Over” incorporated reality elements that Bunim-Murray first made popular on its “Real World” franchise on cable but have not been widely used in first-run daytime syndication. “Starting Over” was on the bubble last year before it ultimately got a green light for the current season.

Season to date through April 30, “Starting Over” had a 1.1 national household rating, flat with its performance within the same period last season, according to Nielsen Media Research. Among women 18 to 34 “Starting Over” scored a 0.8 for the season, down 20 percent from last


Jay Sherman contributed to this report.