Oxygen in Need of Some Digital Air?

Published on October 11, 2007
by Kara Swisher

I think we can safely say the magic multimedia strategy once touted back in Web 1.0 as the savior of old media is now almost completely discounted.


So posits Valleywag’s Owen Thomas in an excellent short analysis of the deal for NBC Universal to buy women’s media cable channel and Web site company Oxygen Media for $925 million announced Tuesday.

“The fact that I’m describing it as, yes, a ‘cable-TV channel’ speaks to Oxygen’s failure,” wrote Thomas yesterday. “Conceived in 2000 as a multimedia empire that would bridge the Web and TV, Oxygen failed to thrive in either medium.”

While it seems like about a million years ago, the Oprah-backed Oxygen, headed by TV veteran exec Geraldine Laybourne, had a very splashy debut only seven years ago and sported a slate of prominent backers like talk show behemoth Oprah and also a spate of dot-com luminaries of the time.

What was stressed then was the tight integration between the cable network, original television programming and pricey Web site, which actually included very good early versions of what would later be called blogs and other small innovations. It was all supposed to herald a cross-promotional matrix of untold influence.

None of this came to pass, of course, and NBCU, said one longtime television exec to me today, was essentially only buying itself a women’s cable play to add to its stable of other cable properties, more than any doubling down in the Web space to aid NBC-owned iVillage.

Thus, the search for multimedia nirvana goes on.

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