A New Channel For Couch Surfers

By Leslie Walker
Sunday, June 5, 2005

Everyone on TV seems to be touting an affiliated Web site, where viewers can vote for some celebrity or unravel some deeper mystery beyond what aired on the boob tube. Web-TV links have been trying to push beyond marketing into storytelling for years, with modest success.

Now comes a new Internet service dedicated to passions for TV that extend past regular broadcasts and span all genres of shows. TV.com, launched Thursday by media company CNet Networks Inc., aims to create an online hangout where couch potatoes can research and explore TV programming and actors while socializing with others who share their enthusiasm for favorite shows. CNet revamped a site it bought in January called TVTome.com.

TV.com boasts information about 2,500 TV series dating to the 1940s, including plot summaries for most episodes aired during that period. It includes video trailers, biographies of characters and actors, and tools to let users communicate by writing reviews and chatting in message boards.

The site seems easy to navigate, letting visitors browse shows by genre, popularity or time period. You can also search for names of performers or keywords in a show's title.

Part of the idea is to create a lively hangout online where advertisers can explore ways to reach TV viewers, who increasingly are zapping past commercials using digital video recorders.


Hip-Hop, on the Go

To see how the mobile media machine is kicking into gear, stop by Def Jam Mobile a new Web site offering hip-hop ring tones, wallpaper, games, greetings and other media for playback on cell phones. The content costs up to $5 per file and can be bought directly from 10 cell phone carriers or purchased through the site.

"We did deals with over 50 hip-hop celebrities, all of whom have signed to Def Jam Mobile and are producing content for us," said Bryan Biniak, general manager of AG Interactive's mobile division, which produced and runs Def Jam Mobile.

Def Jam Mobile is an unusual partnership between Def Jam Enterprises and American Greetings' 18-month-old mobile division. For months it has been creating special content for phones, including art images dubbed "snipes" and "sportz tonez," which are 30 audio files emulating the rhythm and sounds of basketball games.


Digging Into the Blogosphere

What do Norlos and Triscribe have in common? Both are blogs based in New York whose authors commented online last week about Watergate's Deep Throat. And both can be found through a site called Blogdigger.

Blogdigger introduced a new feature last week designed to help anyone find people blogging on particular topics from designated zip codes or cities in the United States. Enter any keyword or topic, along with a city name or zip code, then click "search" and Blogdigger will produce a list of matching blogs arranged by relevance or date of postings.

Our random tests suggest Blogdigger is super-finicky about how you enter city names and states, and even when you do get it right, it seems to spit out a lot of stuff off topic. Still, many folks will welcome any service attempting to overlay real-world geography on Web musings that often appear anonymous.


E-mail Leslie Walker atwalkerl@washpost.com.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company