iVillage Still Looking for ISP Deal

Over a week after discussing new revenue initiatives in an earnings conference call, women’s portal iVillage remains in the hunt for a licensing deal with Internet Service Providers to complement its other premium offerings.

The plan is to strike a distribution deal with major Internet Service Providers, notably AOL and MSN. The idea, which the company has been floating for months now, is to gain iVillage placement with the ISPs as part of their proprietary content offerings. Other subscribers not using the ISPs that iVillage wants to strike deals with would be asked to pay for access to sections of the site’s network.

A spokesman said no decisions have been made about what to charge visitors under the plan, which is still under review after the company started polling its users about it in January.

The chief executive of iVillage, Doug McCormick, has made the shift to “platinum” offerings one of his priorities for the past year.

Given the drought in online ad dollars in particular, and iVillage’s goal of reaching pre-tax profitability later this year for the first time, the New York-based company is in the hunt for new revenue streams to help it fit the bill.

A licensing deal with major ISPs could help bolster the revenue the New York-based company is already taking in from paid content offerings it unveiled last quarter.

For example, a sexual self-improvement course, launched in February with a price point of $30.00, got 4,000 subscribers. Others like it are in the works.

An online personality evaluation based on the Dewey Color System picked up 1,500 customers who paid anywhere from $9.95 for the introductory fee to $19.95 for the current price, the company said. Plus, a promotion arrangement to help generate new subscriptions for Hearst magazine (Hearst is a major owner of the company), generates the company an undisclosed fee for each sale.

So far, the company says the premium offerings helped it boost revenues by 20 percent from the prior year to $15.1 million. But its losses for the quarter were $17.9 million, which included a $9.2 million charge related to its acquisition of Promotions.com.

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