Women.com, Lifetime Team in Promotional/Ad Deals

Content network Women.com and cable network company Lifetime Entertainment Services Tuesday announced deals that has each leveraging its audience to help the other.

Under terms of the agreements, Lifetime, which is jointly owned by Hearst and Disney, will to purchase a 4.6 percent equity stake in Women.com, worth about $10 million.

Lifetime will recoup that cost over the next three years when Women.com purchases $10 million in advertising on Lifetime Television, through a separate agreement.

The companies say the agreement is poised to take advantage of one of the largest Internet-savvy demographics; a report by online measurement firm Media Metrix and analysts Jupiter Communications last month concluded that women now make up more than half of the online population, and are its fastest growing segment.

Specifically, the deal initially banks on leveraging the companies’ large female user bases to drive traffic from Lifetime Television to Women.com, and from Women.com to Lifetime Online.

“By joining forces, we will accelerate the convergence of the Internet, television and the print world by leveraging a huge combined audience of women,” said Women.com chairman and chief executive officer Marleen McDaniel.

According to AC Nielsen ratings, Lifetime is the most watched cable network among women, ranking second in overall, basic cable network ratings.

Accordingly, Perata-Rosati said Women.com will begin airing a new broadcast campaign, which will include the Lifetime Television buys, in early 2001. Women.com’s agency of record, San Francisco-based ad agency Citron Haligman Bedecarre EuroRSCG, will produce the spots.

Women.com’s network itself is a hot property — according to Media Metrix, the site is consistently one of the Web’s most visited properties, ahead of competitors iVillage and Oprah Winfrey-backed Oxygen.com.

Furthermore, Hearst’s women’s magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and Redbook — online versions of which are carried by Women.com’s network — enjoy a total circulation of about 40 percent of domestic women.

As a result, the agreements aim to increase clickthrough to Lifetime Online through link sharing and its addition to Women.com’s network.

“We are extremely pleased to be a part of this powerful partnership that will align the leaders of the women’s television and Internet industries to entertain and inform women,” said Lifetime Entertainment Services president and CEO Carole Black. “We look forward to the many cross promotional and content opportunities this alliance presents.”

The companies also said that they hope to create deeper synergies through the relationship.

“Because there are so many women using television, the Web and print media to access information, there’s a natural synergy there as well,” said Women.com spokeswoman Becca Perata-Rosati. Similarly, women will benefit from the agreements’ print, broadcast and online synergies, she said.

Perata-Rosati said the companies eventually may undertake additional joint marketing efforts, such as co-branded ads, in support of the agreements, although specifics have yet to be finalized.

The deal, the first television partnership for the Web network and the first significant partnership of any sort for Lifetime Online, creates an alliance that resembles in some ways Oxygen’s online and cable network components, and that company’s relationships with other offline, Oprah-intensive brands like “O” magazine.

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