Rainbow Media Holdings Inc. and Primedia Inc. have again delayed the launch of a joint-venture Web site for the New York market, but the companies appear to be close to settling on a name for the online vehicle.
NewYorkMagnet.com and AboutNewYork.com are the leading candidates for the site's moniker. Whatever it's called, the site will feature content from Primedia's New York
magazine and Rainbow's MetroChannels unit, a source familiar with the plan said last week.
When Primedia and Rainbow executives announced the joint venture last March, they said the site would bow in fall 2000. The companies now plan to launch the site in mid-summer, New York
publisher Allan Katz said.
Several factors have contributed to the delay, executives said, including Primedia's merger with About.com and the soft Web advertising market.
Rainbow president of regional programming Greg Moyer said the company has re-evaluated its business plan. Before last year's falloff in Internet stocks, he noted, "there was almost no limit to the amount of money you could spend to aggregate an audience."
Moyer wouldn't divulge how much the companies will invest in the site, but did say "it will be spent more incrementally. We're not going to spend it as quickly."
Since December, nine of the 10 full-time employees hired to work on the site have either resigned or been laid off, one source said.
Moyer wouldn't discuss details of the personnel shakeup, other than to confirm "some changing out of some employees."
Carolyn Everett, who was CEO of the Web site, resigned under a "mutual agreement" in December, Moyer said. She was replaced recently by former New York
editor Craig Unger, who was named its editor in chief and general manager.
Katz said the About.com merger also contributed to the delay. The companies plan to leverage resources from About.com resources, and some of its staffers will develop content for the New York site, he added.
The companies originally said the site would offer "concierge" services, such as restaurant reviews and the ability for users to make reservations. The site was also expected to contain a dating service and sell theater tickets.
Moyer said last week that the companies are now heading in a new content direction, but declined to elaborate.
Though a decision about the site's name hasn't been finalized, one source said that Primedia CEO Tom Rogers has been pushing for NewYorkMagnet.com.
Primedia registered the NewYorkMagnet.com domain name on June 13, according to the Network Solutions Inc. database.
New Jersey resident Ed Foy, who runs a company called CyberRetail.com, purchased AboutNewYork.com in March 1999. The company develops local content and electronic commerce Web sites, Foy said.
In recent month, Foy said he has been contacted several times by third-party representatives, via cell phone. The callers have expressed interest in acquiring the domain name for an unidentified company.
Foy said that he isn't close to reaching an agreement to sell the domain name, but he would be interested in selling it "for the right price."
Katz would neither confirm nor deny that the companies are considering calling the site NewYorkMagnet.com or AboutNewYork.com. Moyer also wouldn't comment on the name.
Meanwhile, Primedia and Rainbow are moving forward with plans to share content and ad sales resources between New York
and MetroChannels. Next month, they plan to launch New York Central,
a daily show on MetroChannels that will feature New York
Primedia stock has fallen about 70 percent in the last year, and that's also affected the launch of the new site, sources said.
Primedia recently announced that it would cut 160 employees, mostly from its Intertec Publishing unit. Intertec will also be renamed, a source said.