November 29, 1999 11:40 AM PST

Time Warner launches entertainment site

Time Warner today launched its much-anticipated online entertainment destination, Entertaindom.com, the latest chapter in the media behemoth's checkered history of Internet strategies.

Since early this morning, though, Entertaindom has periodically flickered, displaying slowdown notices to users accessing its home page. One of these messages read: "Due to the unprecedented popularity of this feature presentation, we cannot accommodate your request."

Warner Bros. Online, which produces Entertaindom, was not immediately available for comment.

As previously reported, Entertaindom highlights popular Time Warner brands and act as a platform for creating new entertainment franchises.

Entertaindom is Time Warner's first major Web launch since it revamped its Internet strategy earlier this year. Since April, the company has been planning to introduce a number of "vertical hubs" to promote its media brands online. After Entertaindom, Time Warner plans to launch two more hubs: one focused on news, information and sports, and another focused on personal finance.

The Entertaindom launch comes seven months after Time Warner shut down Pathfinder, its unwieldy and expensive precursor to Web portals.

Entertaindom features several online programs--ranging from short films by Atom Films to Looney Tunes classics--that visitors can watch through a variety of technologies, including Web video streaming, Flash technology or 3-D streaming software by Brilliant Digital Entertainment.

Some programs--such as "Cartoon Cinema," which features classic Looney Tunes shorts, or "Rhino Retro Pop," which features expired television programs and commercials--allow users to access archived Warner Bros. programs. Other programs--original productions offered through Entertaindom creative partners--include the "God and Devil Show," "Dr. Science" and "Floops."

Entertaindom also offers news and headlines from sources including Time's Entertainment Weekly, Reuters, Variety and CNN. In addition, the site includes Web services such as home page community AcmeCity, auctions by eBay, horoscopes, television listings and site personalization.

But with the fanfare of Entertaindom's launch comes a challenge for Time Warner, according to analysts.

Creating a destination for all things entertainment poses tremendous opportunities and potential risks for the company, analysts said. A site offering content for everything entertainment-related could spread itself thin when competing against other sites that focus on specific aspects of entertainment, such as movies, music or news, for example.

The question remains whether consumers will gravitate to a general entertainment site like Entertaindom or to a site that focuses on specific, yet highly popular, slivers of the entertainment industry.

"Entertainment is an amalgamation of categories that I think consumers relate to on an individual basis," said Mark Mooradian, an analyst at market research firm Jupiter Communications. "I think they're going to face challenges from music media ventures such as MTV.com; from sites that are focused specifically on films, such as E-Online; and from sites focusing specifically on television."

But analysts such as Forrester Research's Lisa Allen pointed out that Entertaindom starts off with a distinct advantage: its brands. According to Allen, Warner Bros. Online has succeeded in attracting traffic to its AcmeCity home page community using its brands and its celebrities.

"Building deep verticals that incorporate Time Warner properties makes more sense than aggregating brands under the Pathfinder umbrella," Allen said.

 

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