BET.com posted a notice on its Web site late last month
that it would be open for visitor traffic in February. The site also unveiled its new
logo, a spinoff of BET Holdings Inc.'s star-power theme.
Stacie Turner, vice president of marketing for BET.com,
said the site would launch early this month, following a sneak preview to analysts and
reporters scheduled for last week.
The Black Entertainment Television brand is already
recognized in 95 percent of African-American households, Turner said. The new logo takes
advantage of BET's brand equity, but it adds new elements that are unique to the
The new Web site is a completely different concept than the
MSBET site, which will eventually be folded into BET.com, Turner said.
BET.com was created to be a general-interest portal
targeted to the needs of African Americans ages 18 to 44. In addition to content created
for the site, BET.com will also offer the same features as other popular general-interest
portals, including e-mail, instant messaging, search functions, directories and chat
"It's our objective to become the gathering place
for African Americans on the Internet," BET spokesman Michael Lewellen said.
Turner said BET.com hopes to attract 2 million unique
visitors in its first year. Starting this month, the company plans to spend $8 million to
$10 million on advertising, which will include television, print, radio, outdoor and
online. The campaigns will use a play on the letters "www" with the slogan,
"Where We Web."
"We believe BET is one of our greatest assets,"
Turner said of BET.com's majority owner. In addition to providing content, BET's
cable and publishing assets will promote the new Web site.
Other partners include Microsoft Corp., News Corp., USA
Networks Inc. and Liberty Digital -- backers in what was a much-ballyhooed, $35 million
plan announced last summer to beef up the BET site.
Turner said USA's experience with Home Shopping
Network would come in handy when BET.com opens the electronic-commerce portion of the Web
site in the middle of this year.
BET.com did research to see what types of products its
target audience wanted to purchase online, and the results included art, music and urban
BET also hopes to use BET.com as a component of future
interactive-television services, Turner said. In addition, BET.com will feature free video
streaming of certain BET programming as a service to cable subscribers whose schedules
don't always allow them to see their favorite BET shows. The company also hopes to
coordinate online chats with musical artists who appear on-air.
BET.com was expected to employ 30 people by the end of
January. The company recently moved to a new, 13,000-square-foot facility in Washington,
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