Oxygen Owners Aspire To ‘BET Money’

NBC Universal has been in talks since June with New York based-Oxygen TV about a possible acquisition, according to the Hollywood Reporter:

While a recent estimate from research firm SNL Kagan pegged the value of Oxygen at more than $1 billion, the consensus among several analysts reached for comment was that it could fetch as much as $1.5 billion. But Oxygen’s owners, a private group that includes Oprah Winfrey, Paul Allen and chairman and CEO Geraldine Laybourne, are aspiring to what one insider dubbed ‘BET money,’ a reference to the $3 billion Viacom shelled out for BET in 2000.”

Can Oprah get any richer? Can Paul Allen.? The Hollywood Reporter notes that if NBC Universal acquired Oxygen it would be a natural fit for NBC’s iVillage that has thus far been underutilized by GE’s entertainment unit. iVillage, like Oxygen, is regarded as ahead of its time. The original vision of Oxygen when it launched in 2000 was to be a multiplatform convergence of television and the web geared towards young women. After the dotcom bust, Oxygen evolved into a pure television play. Last June, Oxygen CEO Gerry Laybourne explained to Jack Meyers of Mediavillage:

There were good ideas for online that have been on the shelf since then and we’ve begun reintroducing them. Everyone is promising multi-platform and integration and it’s great in concept, but it’s all about execution. We have great ideas and we’re also looking to do new things that are relevant to engaged, busy and connected young women.

Of related interest: NBC Universal recently invested in Sugar, the women’s blog network.

— Ron Mwangaguhunga