NBC to Promote TV Goods via Amazon

Amazon.com will sell books and other items that appear on the NBC television network, through a new marketing agreement.

The deal features a co-branded Web page hawking items “as seen on NBC” — such as cookbooks and pots and pans from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse (star of a primetime show on NBC), a copy of Parenting Your Out of Control Teenager (associated with an NBC Dateline show that aired on Tuesday), and Motorola TalkAbout two-way radios (featured on Wednesday’s “Today”).

The deal, which will see the partners splitting revenue from the sales, also covers books related to and mentioned on programming appearing on NBC-operated networks, like MSNBC and CNBC. Amazon declined to specify the arrangement’s financial details.

NBC, a unit of General Electric, will promote the items and the site — Amazon.com/nbc — with seven- to 20-second ads running immediately after broadcasts on its networks.

“We’re working with NBC to make it easier for their viewers to find products related to NBC programming,” said Amazon spokesperson Kristin Schaefer. “At the end of programming of the NBC network, there’ll be spots that highlight an item from the show they’ve just watched.”

The site’s contents will change daily, and it’s expected that it will at one point or another encompass all of the network’s top shows, which include “Friends,” “Law and Order,” and “The West Wing.” There’s no limit to the number of shows that NBC can tie into the site each day.

The agreement, which is exclusive to NBC, will run through the end of the year, at which point the partners will decide either to continue the effort, or to abandon it.

“This is the first time that we’ve done something like this, and that they’ve done something like this,” Schaefer said. “We hope it will be very successful.”

The deal highlights an increasing trend toward networks’ efforts to use the Web to squeeze additional revenue out of on-air programming. CBS, for instance, released outtakes and additional footage from its “Survivor: Africa” series to the Web, where it can be seen only by users that pay a fee.

While tying-in e-commerce to entertainment programs has long been a promise of interactive TV pundits — who imagine a day when a viewer can click on an outfit worn by a “Friends” castmember to make a purchase. But the NBC-Amazon.com agreement could raise some eyebrows when it comes to investigative news shows like “Dateline.”

“A newscast is not supposed to have a bias,” said Fran Smith, a spokesperson for watchdog group Consumer Alert. “But a tie-in giving people an opportunity to get more information is not, in and of itself, bad, as long as it’s disclosed and people know that it’s not necessarily an endorsement.”

Amazon, for its part, said it expects to see little conflict of interest.

“There may be cases when an author might be on the ‘Today’ show, but for the most part, the items are just related … just additional reading or additional insight,” Schaefer said. “We absolutely respect the lines between journalism and advertising, and we work with NBC to make sure we don’t cross those.”

“They place these just as they would place any advertising or promotional spot,” she added. “In working with them, we make sure that content is placed in the spots will be relevant to viewers, but the spots aren’t integrated into any of the editorial.”

In any event, the move also marks the latest effort by NBC to boost e-commerce income. Earlier this month, NBC also took the wraps off its ShopNBC.com online store, which it launched in conjunction with ValueVision Media, the operator of the ShopNBC cable TV channel. That store will feature NBC-themed merchandise.

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