Some more details on NBC Universal’s (NYSE: GE) planned $925 million acquisition of Oxygen Media from an interview this afternoon with Jeff Gaspin, president and COO of Universal Television Group:
Branding: Oxygen will not become part of iVillage. NBCU plans to maintain Oxygen Media’s on-air and online brands following the acquisition, which is expected to close next month. Gaspin: “Oxygen is a younger audience … a little younger than Bravo’s. They’re a little more raw in their presentation, they speak differently to women, a little more frank.” Oxygen will be the only NBCU network aimed only at women; Bravo draws good demographics but, as Gaspin said, “the tagline isn’t ‘watch what happens to women.’ Bravo is really about buzz and pop culture.” When NBCU was comparing Bravo to Oxygen as competition, he said they found a substantial amount of unduplicated audience.
Digital plans: The plan for now is to follow the same process as other NBCU networks, with each responsible for its own online presence. “I like, at least I have up until now, that channels are responsible for their own digital platforms.” Could that change? Gaspin: “Even before Oxygen, we are always looking at the structure of our company and our channels, to see if there are opportunities to go to market in a different way or to create more synergies. … Oxygen certainly will be subject to the same process.”
Gaspin cited NBCU’s success taking its on-air properties online. “Oxygen has ramped up its efforts recently in the same regard. I’ve got to believe between Bravo, Oxygen, iVillage and some of our other properties there will be a very robust play that we can make as a multi-platform new-media entity.”
Cross-sales: Gaspin: :”With 17 million uniques at iVillage, several million uniques at Bravo,and several million uniques at Oxygen, all with a female target, there’s certainly the ability to cross sell the three platforms.” Distinct as brands? “Distinct as brands, yes. We can certainly create virtual sales opportunities, virtual market opportunities where they’re combined.”
iVillage: Gaspin: “We have, as a company, actually been very good at helping to cross-promote each other on the appropriate properties. We will certainly have the opportunity to do the same, to look at Oxygen and iVillage online for one to help promote the other, we will absolutely do that.”
Laybourne stepping down: Co-founder Gerry Laybourne will step down as chairman and CEO at the end of the year. As for her successor, Gaspin said they will spend the next 30-45 days getting to know the Oxygen team and will decide after that.