IQ News: Fox Vowing To Get In Net Game By Leveraging Tv Division

some skeptics would say, yet again–to become a top media company for news, sports and entertainment on the Web, News Corp.’s News America Digital Publishing arm is relying on its television division to plug its online properties. As part of the plan, NADP last week broke the first of three irreverent 30-second spots for Fox Sports Online, via Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York, on its Fox Sports Net stations to raise awareness and build traffic to the site.
It’s the biggest promotional effort to date for any NADP property, which also include Fox News Online and TV Guide Entertainment Network, or TVGEN. “Our goal is to be No. 1 or 2 in each of the [news, sports and entertainment] categories by the end of the fiscal year [in June 1999],” said Matt Jacobson, executive vice president of NADP. The effort comes after several years of pursuing a variety of online strategies, including the aborted iGuide initiative, a precursor to TVGEN that was born in 1996 after it parted ways with its Net partner MCI.
Until now, Fox has been quieter than rival media companies in building and promoting its Web properties, leaving many to ponder whether the network is serious about digital media. For example, ABC and CBS dominate online sports with espn.com and cbs.sportsline.com, respectively, and NBC, through its MSNBC.com site, is in a battle for dominance of online news with CNN.com.
Still, Fox watchers have speculated the media company will burst onto the scene by acquiring a portal. Scott Ehrlich, senior vice president and executive producer of NADP, dismissed the speculation, stating that for now the company wants to build momentum for its Web sites “from our traditional broadcasting property.”
For example, it’s leveraging its Fox Sports TV coverage and personalities by customizing Web-only programming from Fox Sports pro football announcers Pat Summerall and John Madden.
However, Ehrlich and Jacobson acknowledged that the company still is interested in the possibility of acquiring a portal in the future, but right now most of them carry too high a price tag.
“As soon as we see a deal that’s more reasonable, we’d pull the trigger,” Ehrlich said. “We absolutely will pull the trigger and we’ll pull it fast.”