The BBC is to expand its Web presence and ecommerce offerings in a bid keep its loyal viewers and to reach new customers in a different way.
Britain's broadcasting bastion will relaunch the online BBC shop to include 4,000 products, creating a channel to provide goods the high street retailer wouldn't necessarily stock, such as back catalogue videos of cult TV shows.
"We will concentrate initially on CDs, books and videos," said Jonathon Turpin, commercial director of [email protected] the BBC. "Ultimately we want to create the definitive BBC store, where you can buy merchandise related to all BBC products. If the BBC does it then it's there."
For example, fans of the Teletubbies will be able to buy videos, books and toys all online from a central place.
Turpin stressed that the BBC can't generate high volumes of traffic on its own, as it doesn't have a high street presence. To boost traffic, it has struck a deal with Microsoft's MSN portal to direct consumers to its products.
MSN will from today publish content from the BBC's commercial Web site, [email protected] the BBC. Content will come from all of the BBC webzines on [email protected] the BBC including Top Gear, Top of the Pops, Comedy Zone, Holiday, Radio Times, Tomorrow's World+ and Good Homes.
The deal, explained Turpin, is geared towards attracting a new breed of consumers to the [email protected] the BBC, those who wouldn't necessarily think of going to the Top Gear area for information and advice on buying a car, who instead first would turn to MSN. Users will be directed to Top Gear content, and be able to enter search its huge database of cars to find the right one for them.
There will also be a TV listings search facility and the Tomorrow's World+ and Top of the Pops areas will carry latest news.
The deal is a real coup for MSN because the main BBC Online site gets nearly as much traffic as Yahoo at 42 per cent, according to Fletcher Research.
No financial details were disclosed, with Turpin describing the deal as an "exchange of value," a co-marketing arrangement with some "cash elements" that will generate traffic for both sides.
The deal is not exclusive and Turpin said there will be similar deals with other portals announced in the next few months.
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