As Discovery Communications (NSDQ: DISCA) prepares for its earnings report tomorrow, the company’s online efforts are expected to play a greater role in driving revenues over the next few months. One part of the digital strategy will entail more content that’s only lightly related to its cable TV programming. TLC this week unveiled Parentables, which is that channel’s first standalone, non-program blog project, which is entering the very crowded, though still popular, mom-blog space.
Parentables has been in the works for the past several months, and although it is not built specifically around TLC’s on-air talent, it will include regular contributions from Kate Gosselin and Michelle Duggar from TLC’s hit shows Kate Plus 8 and 19 Kids and Counting, Kelly Day, EVP and GM of Discovery Communications’ Digital Media and Commerce division, told paidContent in an interview.
Reality stars will help draw initial attention to the site, but they can’t carry it alone. At launch, Parentables has more than 20 contributors, and ultimately will have a total of 30. The bloggers were selected because they have some established, credentialed expertise in a given subject area, such as finance, health, education and so on.
Parentables will be managed by Meaghan O’Neill, who will serve as editor-in-chief. O’Neill was brought over from green-lifestyle and news site Treehugger, which Discovery acquired for an estimated $15 million in 2007 at a time when the company began is big expansion into social media.
While Treehugger is more narrowly focused, Parentables resembles another Discovery site, HowStuffWorks, in its wider approach, O’Neill said. “Parentables is a generalist site, everything from education and disciplining your kids to personal finance,” she said “And it’s aimed broadly at anywhere parents fall on the political and educational spectrum. That said, we’re looking for professional bloggers for strong voices. But this isn’t about sharing opinions about the news of the day. It’s about relating experiences.”
The controversy of mom blogs and advertising has died down a lot over the past year, ever since the FTC handed down new regulations about promotions and social media, while some of the larger sites in the space banded together to form Blog With Integrity.
In terms of compensating Parentables’ contributors, there will be no revenue sharing. Instead, bloggers will be paid per post and given a bonus for driving more pageviews, O’Neill said. Secondly, all posts must be exclusive and original to Parentables.
Ultimately, if a blogger gets enough attention, that person could inspire the building of a show around her (or his) persona. “We obviously would always hope a show would come out of it,” Day said. “We spoke with [Discovery Group President] Eileen O’Neill when we were thinking of doing this last fall. The programming people were excited about this and getting the talent on board. But the main focus for this is online and building an independent social network. Still, and I don’t want to speak for the network, if an emerging digital superstar were to be found within Parentables, it would be looked on as an added bonus.”