Comstock said that community features such as online chat and blogs would figure prominently in the online version of "iVillage Live." She cited the upcoming program, for which a host has not yet been announced, as an example of NBC's efforts to emphasize community-building throughout its media properties.
"iVillage has a small but very loyal community that's very ripe for growing and energizing 'iVillage Live,'" Comstock said.
The simultaneous airing of "iVillage Live" on NBC's 10 owned-and-operated stations and on the Web would be the first time the network has done so on an ongoing basis, said an NBC spokesperson.
No advertisers or sponsors have yet been named in connection with the launch of "iVillage Live."
In addition to underscoring the need to foster community-building in digital media, Comstock also outlined other major themes during a keynote address on online content. She highlighted the importance of personalizing Web media as much as possible and staying in tune with consumer behavior online. That means answering the question: "What do people actually do with media?" she said.
For instance, she pointed out, NBC found that 68 percent of iPod users are using the devices in their homes--rather than in remote locations, as might be expected.
Comstock also noted that traditional media companies need to adapt to the changing media landscape by demonstrating a greater willingness to give up control of their content. "Increasingly, consumers want to be in control of the story itself," she said. As examples of increased openness, she cited separate partnerships that NBC and Warner Bros. had recently struck with YouTube to make TV programming and music available on the video-sharing site.
But at the end of the day, consumers will still seek out quality programming whether online or offline, Comstock said.
During a panel discussion following her presentation, media executives from companies including Yahoo and AOL said they viewed the onslaught of Internet media as a benefit rather than a threat. Comstock and CBS Digital Media President Larry Kramer noted that the "long tail" of digital media brings increased efficiencies to big media businesses.
The Internet allows media companies to find out almost instantly what consumers like and to tap talent bubbling up from the vast pool of user-created video and other content available online. While networks still invest millions each year to produce new shows that may never air, the Web is "a great platform for trying to crack through that veneer," Kramer said.
Rather than creating original content, AOL is focused on developing "interactive products," said panelist Jim Bankoff, AOL executive vice president for programming & products. That includes everything from e-mail to its video platform to its new Gold Rush game.
"Our business is not creating original content," said Bankoff. He explained that AOL will only create content when it's "looking to fill a gap" in the existing marketplace, as with the start of its AOL Sessions music offering. And when AOL does create content, it will usually be with media partners like TV producer Mark Burnett, who helped create the Gold Rush game, or Warner Bros.' Telepictures unit, which worked with AOL to develop the new TMZ gossip site. "It depends on what definition you use, if you consider that original," said Bankoff.