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Interview: NBCU’s Zalaznick: Adding iVillage To Bravo, Oxygen ‘Converse Of Synergy’

Lauren Zalaznick, president, Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks builds brands. She also knows what it’s like to “auf” them — for instance, saying goodbye to Trio, the network she followed to NBC with the merger of Universal’s cable channels into NBC Universal (NYSE: GE). “People said, “But it was your baby,” Zalaznick told me. “It actually wasn’t. I have a very clear separation between my actual babies and my business babies. Business babies you do have some control over; real, you don’t.” We spoke after her promotion last week to president, women and lifestyle networks, responsible now not only for Bravo Media and recent multi-platform acquisition Oxygen Media, but for iVillage as well. To be clear, she wasn’t threatening to do away with any brands but was responding to my suggestion that nothing was sacred. The impression left was just as clear: sentiment isn’t part of the equation.

More from the interview after the jump

The same day, NBCU announced the creation of its virtual content-and-ad women’s network [email protected], launching today during NBCU’s new-style upfront. Zalaznick avoided any comments that could be interpreted as criticism of the way iVillage was handled post-$600 million acquisition by Beth Comstock, now back at GE, or by the management of iVillage that continues to be led by Deborah Fine. For most of its first two years, iVillage lived outside the TV programming world of NBCU, connecting for various bursts of synergy that didn’t always take but operated independently. When Comstock left, it moved to Jeff Gaspin’s Universal Television Group and now, as Zalaznick freely admits, she gets to start without having to go through all of the merger madness. “We have none of the headwind, the nuts and bolts, the actual logistics an acquisition has. …iVillage is a very strong asset that’s been more than holding its own that’s ready.”

([email protected] and Zalaznick’s new group each include Green is Universal, which reaches across every aspect of NBCU.)

More on iVillage: “My guess is going to take me a very immersive couple of months experience

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