Current TV Tweaks Web Strategy

Current TV is reinventing itself online to become, well, more current.

On Oct. 16, Current.TV, the user-generated news portal feeding the cable network, will cease to exist, but will become one of the tabs on, the cable network’s new portal.

Joshua Katz, president of marketing for the cable network and website, said the venture acknowledged that it was rather a “closed community,” since contributors were only the production savvy. The executive himself used to visit current.TV and realized “I couldn’t make TV to save my life.”

The new Web iteration, executives said, would be a “curated home page.” Current’s user-generated content will be a part of the mix but the news displayed will be from any source from which users can clip and build, from professional news sites like or the New York Times, to content they find on MySpace, Facebook or YouTube. .

“We’ll be somewhere in the middle,” said Katz. Amanda Zweerink, director of online community, said the site will be “source agnostic,” capable of hosting any embeddable content player.

Site users will be able to have a rich media conversation about topics, contributing via text messages and webcam uploads, or joining the online dialog by pasting URLs into topic threads, leading users to related content they think is relevant. Current will monitor this activity, so important additions to the dialog on a topic can be added into the on-air pod on that issue for subsequent cablecasts.

Research by the network indicates that 70% of its viewers have their laptop open as they watch Current TV on cable. The new site will allow those viewers to interact immediately with content, voting for top stories, which will rise to the top of the home page.

The site also expands the functionality of the programming guide of Current TV. Site users can scroll forward or backward 1.5 hours in time to view content that’s just been telecast or will be telecast, to watch it on the Internet as well as comment on or add to stories.

But Katz stressed the site is not intended to replace viewing of the cable network.

“Viewers are encouraged to use the web but are rewarded for watching TV as well,” he said.