TV Guide goes microbrand: went live this week; it’s a spanking new facelift for a site run by Jon Hein that discusses TV shows that–yep–plunge downward from former greatness (or at least decent entertainment value)–and it’s got a slew of new community and interactive features for users to play with.
What’s interesting here is that it’s Gemstar owner TV Guide that’s done the redesign and powered the service–and they’ve done an amazing job. Just like a big distillery that decides to launch some micro-brews for a new market, or a cosmetics company that acquires a smaller brand to extend its audiences, TV Guide’s bought jumptheshark, improved the tools, and liberally lauded it with TV Guide applications and ads, ensuring every TV watcher using the site has every chance on the planet to click on TV Guide apps.
Damn clever, eh?
Even better than Johnson & Johnson buying BabyCenter back in the day.
Lessons to be learned from this one (for big companies like the one I work for and for all of us):

  • If you build applications and services, embed them in your own or others niche services to extend your audience/brand reach
  • Building platform tools is cool, but this kind of integration gets you to audiences faster if you don’t have a huge network to drive your audience growth really quickly
  • Micro brands have their own followings–cooler than the big guys ( Yahoo is tackling this with Brand Universe–site that will play off great brands)and get get you lots of long tail–and maybe something that gets big, fast
  • If you are willing to integrate into diverse properties and you have tools and services, you too can play this game.

What’s particularly interesting about TV Guide’s play, however, is that they aren’t even the tool creators–unlike Yahoo or Google, they’re working with a third party to power the service–and yet while the initial investment may be greater, the strategy is going to work just as well–perhaps even better since one presumes maintaining the tools will be a big focus.

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