NBCi Debuts Revamped Web Effort

NBC Internet, Inc. (Nasdaq: NBCI) unveiled a new Internet portal Monday that consolidates the company’s consumer Internet properties under a single name, showcasing their affiliation with NBC’s television networks.

The new NBCi.com site, which is being publicized through a large television advertising campaign that began during the Olympic Games, combines the company’s various Web sites, including Snap.com, Xoom.com and NBC.com. In June, the company announced its intention to reorganize and put the sites under a single banner.

“For the first time, all of our functionality and content are in a single, consumer-friendly, integrated offering,” NBCi chief executive officer Will Lansing said.

NBCi’s business-to-small business portal service, AllBusiness.com, will continue to operate as a stand-alone service, linked to and distributed on the new portal, the company said.

Capturing NBC Viewers

NBCi is hoping to capture some of the NBC networks’ viewing audience, spending about $50 million (US$) of its $327 million outstanding NBC advertising credits on a “heavy rotation” of spots throughout the new fall TV season.

The company said its aim is to “extend the NBC brand onto the Internet, in much the same way NBC was able to successfully extend its brand into cable television” with its CNBC and MSNBC channels.

Parent General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) holds a stake of about 40 percent in NBCi.

Shares Near 52-Week Low

NBCi shares have taken a big hit this year. On Friday, the stock closed at 6 3/16, near a 52-week low. In January, NBCi traded as high as 106 1/4. Like other companies that rely on Internet advertising, NBCi has suffered as dot-com clients and others cut back on spending for online ads.

According to Goldman Sachs analyst Tonia Pankopf, the consolidated portal “should spark renewed user and advertiser interest.”

NBCi shares closed Monday at 7 5/8, a 23-percent jump.

Free Net Access Planned

NBCi said it is also teaming up with retailer Montgomery Ward to offer free Internet access service featuring customized versions of the new portal, starting this fall. Other agreements will be completed shortly, according to NBCi.

All NBCi distributors, including Prodigy/SBC, U S West (now merged with Qwest) and RealNetworks, will receive customized editions of the new portal, which provides Internet search and directory service, shopping, direct e-commerce, entertainment, personal home pages and more for both narrowband and broadband users, NBCi said.

The new service also includes what the company calls a “personal agent” — a feature allowing users to access Internet content and commerce services across all desktop and Internet applications, including word processing.

The service is built on technology acquired by NBCi when it bought Flyswat, Inc. earlier this year.

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