NBC Prepares for iVillage Live

NBC is hoping to ride the wave of so-called "Web 2.0" with its participatory, multiplatform talk show iVillage Live. The woman-focused weekday show, which will launch Dec. 4 at noon on NBC's owned-and-operated stations, will also be streamed live on NBC Universal-owned website iVillage, where viewers will be invited to chat about what they are seeing. Portions of that chat could end up on air as fodder for host chit-chat or as a scrolling ticker.

IVillage Live, shot at the company's Universal Studios theme park, is NBC's first major project to utilize online women's portal iVillage, which the company bought for $600 million earlier this year. The show, which B&C has reported on throughout its development is launching at a time when old media companies like NBC are angling to get a piece of the so-called "Web 2.0" movement, characterized by websites like YouTube and MySpace that solicit content from users and foster a sense of community.

To that end, iVillage Live will offer live chats at noon on both the east and west coasts. It will also offer a daily poll question and an "audience comment box" for 24 hours preceding each day's show, so viewers can offer input on the next day's broadcast. It will also offer audience members, who will be seated in a revamped theater in Universal answer questions on polling devices attached to their seats.

At the moment, NBC is not selling it to other NBC or non-NBC-owned stations, but the company will run it daily at noon on NBC U-owned cable channel Bravo in an effort to make it available outside of the markets where NBC has O&Os. Stations for now won’t be able to localize the show, but hosts will be able to highlight pertinent chat conversations from various markets.

As so many new daytime talk shows struggle to find an audience and many ultimately fail doing so, NBC’s expectations for the show are “pretty realistic,” Jay Ireland, President of the NBCU Television Stations told B&C. Ireland noted that NBC’s metrics for judging the show’s success go beyond on-air ratings.

“Whatever the ratings may be, we’ll be the first interactive [talk]show out there,” he said.

The show, he says, will also gauge success from online sales of its sponsors’ products. NBC has lined up several charter advertisers for the show, including The Estee Lauder Companies, Bally Total Fitness, Healthy Choice and Unilever. In addition to including advertisers in iVillage Live segments – Estee Lauder cosmetics could show up in a beauty segment, for example – NBC will feature them in an online section users can click to buy their products.

NBC has lined up a slew of little-known but experienced talent to host the show. Anchors include Molly Pesce, who co-hosted a show on Animal Planet, Sissy Schaefer, who has co-anchored the 5 p.m. news on Ohio’s WEWS for the past three years and Guy Yovan, who has hosted programming on QVC and Home Shopping Network.

IVillage Live will be executive produced by daytime TV veteran David Shenfeld, who most recently was executive producer of WNYW’s Good Day New York and also did stints at talk-focused Ricki and MTV Live and Fox at Breakfast, among others. The show is also under the direction of Steve Schwaid, SVP of News and Programming for the NBC U TV stations group, who helped create and develop the show.

NBC has been developing iVillage Live since soon after the company bought the women's portal. A pilot shot last year was hosted by Access Hollywood weekend co-anchor Tony Potts.