Oxygen’s Laybourne Was Multiplatform Before It Was Cool


To paraphase the saying connected with Ted Turner, who was cable before cable was cool … I covered the turn of the century launch of Oxygen with its high-profile backers — investor Paul Allen, co-founder Oprah Winfrey among them. Cable vet Geraldine Laybourne wanted to mesh new media with a new cable network for women from teens on up; the elaborate plans included numerous web sites, some acquired, some incubated. I remember wanting it to work, seeing the value placed on the online operations as an important shift even as it was clear that it was too much far too soon. The network survived but the web scheme was scaled back again and again during the post-bubble years, taking with it some very talented people and good concepts. I thought about all this as I read Laybourne ‘s interview with Suzanne Vranica about multiplatform as the new buzzword and Oxygen’s own trajectory. Some excerpts:
— “I think the good thing about us is we were centered on one thing. We wanted to create brands for young women and we thought it was first going to be on the Internet. We made a pretty quick adjustment because we said we don’t see a path to profitability by being a content player on the Internet because it was very hard to enable the kinds of things we wanted to — just from a technology standpoint. … We are in the lovely position of having made mistakes, some big mistakes, in the beginning and hopefully we won’t make them the second time around.”
— “If we want to be a home base for young women we are asking what kind of things we can do online that can connect with them, which have nothing to do with television. We launched “Crafty Girls” and we just went live with a yarn manufacturer and we are selling yarn. We know our audience likes crafts. But it’s hip craft. It’s not your mother’s knitting.”
— “What is exciting to me about the second version of the Web is it is all about the architecture of participation. How do we connect people with each other? We are taking this participation aspect seriously with all our shows. … With ‘Mo’Nique’s Plus Size Beauty Pageant’ we are allowing people to upload their videos this year.”

Comments are closed.