NBCU’s Comstock Gets The NYP Treatment

What to make of an NY Post story Wednesday taking potshots at NBCU’s Beth Comstock (complete with tabloid headline “Comstock’s Load”)? Here’s one clue: anything negative is attributed only to unidentified “sources close to NBC.” The story zeros in on Comstock’s digital responsibilities, ignoring the other aspects of her promotion to president of integrated media and anyone else’s involvement in NBCU’s digital strategy. The story does mention Comstock’s involvement in the NBCU-News Corp. JV; News Corp. owns the NYP.

Among other things, for some reason, the NYP is fixated on the idea that Comstock was the driving force behind the launch of iVillage Live, the ratings-challenged talk show that debuted in December because she wanted to jump start the site’s growth. One problem with that scenario: according to multiple sources inside NBC, the idea for a combo online-broadcast show came from the TV station group, which doesn’t report to Comstock, and predated the acquisition; 10 of the stations agreed to carry the show. (That’s not to suggest Comstock wasn’t involved in moving the iVillage Live along.) The show is profitable, as the story actually notes, but I’m told it’s being “creatively retooled” in an effort to boost the ratings. As for whether or not iVillage is the right cornerstone of NBCU’s web strategy, the success or failure of one show has little to do with it. As we wrote last month in a detailed look at iVillage’s metrics, it’s too soon to tell how much more iVillage can grow but it has experienced considerable growth since its acquisition by NBCU last May. In the meantime, I’m told iVillage has met every performance mark set by NBCU parent GE.