April 11, 2006, 12:00 AM

Discovery Communications moves into broadband TV markets

With an eye on the online advertising market, the producer of TV’s Discovery Channel and the web’s Discovery Store this week is launching its first TV channels designed exclusively for the web.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

With an eye on the online advertising market, Discovery Communications Inc., producer of TV’s Discovery Channel and the web’s Discovery Store, this week is launching its first TV channels designed exclusively for the web. It’s also beginning to offer video products through Google Earth.

Two Internet TV shows, Discovery Channel Beyond and Travel Channel Beyond, will debut April 15 as 24-hour programming delivered over broadband accessible through Discovery.com. The channels will offer original content, including some that relate to existing programs on the Discovery Channel and some that are submitted by viewers. It will be powered by Brightcove, an Internet TV service.

“Discovery is seizing the opportunity to enrich the multiplatform media experiences of people who love and rely on our content and channels,” said Don Baer, Discovery’s senior executive vice president for strategy and development.

Discovery, No. 200 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites, has also started to offer samples of its videos on U.S. national parks through Google Earth. A user who accesses Google Earth to view its continuous satellite images of the Grand Canyon, for example, will have the option to click on a Discovery icon to immediately link to Discovery.com to view a video produced by Discovery about the Grand Canyon, a Discovery spokeswoman says, adding that most consumers probably won’t notice that they’ve moved off the Google site.

Discovery is initially offering only short versions of its videos through Google at no charge, banking on the increased traffic the deal will bring to Discovery.com to support online advertising, the spokeswoman says. But it expects to eventually offer full-length videos and hasn’t ruled out charging for them, she adds.

Patrick Gates, Discovery’s executive vice president of Consumer Direct, will speak at the Internet Retailer 2006 Conference in June in Chicago on the topic, “When TV and the Internet Merge, Web Shopping Explodes.”

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