DIY Revs Up Cobra for Web Relaunch

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Do-It-Yourself Network plans to unveil its newly designed Web site ( www.diynet.com) today (April 2) to coincide with its "ultimate DIY project"-an on-air and online blueprint that walks automotive buffs through building a 1967 Cobra replica kit car.

DIY has devoted a five-part, five-hour series to step-by-step instructions on building the full-sized car, backed up by a list of needed parts on the network's site.

In similar news, Discovery Wings Channel said last week that it would premiere this Sunday (April 8) a new 13-part series on constructing an RV-8 kit airplane.

DIY's Cobra series coincides with a five-week free preview of the digital network, set to begin today for subscribers to EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network.

In addition to the free Dish preview, DIY plans to promote the Cobra project through links from other Scripps Network-owned sites, including foodtv.com and hgtv.com. DIY will also give away the finished replica car through a contest posted on its Web site.

"For people who love building cars, the Cobra is probably one of the most storied and coveted cars that was ever made," said DIY president and general manager Jim Zarchin.

DIY hopes the Cobra-focused promotion will help convince potential viewers that "we're not just home and garden, dirt and nails," Zarchin said. "There's a wide range of things we cover."

The car kits were also designed to highlight the organic links between DIY's cable network and its Web site.

"DIY is a convergent network," Zarchin said. "Everything that's on-air is also online."

Zarchin said online fare is not merely an afterthought for the network. Web content production begins at the same time on-air programming is developed.

Because printed instructions for all of DIY's how-to projects are available online, viewers of the cable network can focus on the TV programming-and presumably its advertisers-without having to search for a pen and paper.

Down the road, DIY plans to make much of its video programming available on-demand through online video streaming, via cable affiliates' video-on-demand platforms or both.

At present, Zarchin noted, "nobody's beating us down to stream everything." But do-it-yourselfers appreciate the printed instructions that they can print off the Web site and take with them to embark on a project, whether it's related to home decorating, arts and crafts, or even such high-tech hobbies as digital photography.

"We're giving the users what they want," Zarchin said. "It has to be a utility; it's information first."

DIY executives hope viewers will also refer to the tool kit printouts as they visit some of the network's advertisers, including top home-improvement retailers The Home Depot Inc. and Lowe's Companies Inc.

In some cases, DIY will team with its retail advertisers to create turn-key, shrink-wrapped tool kits for specific projects. DIY directs viewers to the retailers, rather than fulfilling the sales itself through electronic commerce, according to Scripps Networks vice president of new media Ron Feinbaum.

DIY sells the tool kit ad sponsorships as an on-air and online bundle. "In the future, we'll sell interactive television and wireless [advertising] as well," Feinbaum added.

Zarchin envisions a day when DIY fans can download tool kit information wirelessly to their personal digital assistants and carry the devices with them as they walk the aisles of their local home improvement center. He even hopes to work with the retailers to create DIY-branded kiosks that can communicate directly with the PDAs for store-specific information.

DIY's TV network presently reaches about 3 million homes. Scripps hopes to increase its carriage to 10 million by year-end.

"We almost look at the Web site as the way for people to find us," Zarchin said.

Feinbaum said that people are finding the site, many through viral marketing as fans pass on the word to their friends and family. Once they get there, DIY encourages Web users to contact their cable or satellite operator to request carriage or to upgrade to a digital package.

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