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There's No Business Like Show Business for Web Entertainment Start-Up

VALLEY BUSINESS | MARRYING TECH & ENTERTAINMENT

Internet: Burbank-based Z.com has ambitious plans for creative programming and generating revenue.

August 15, 2000|CONSTANCE SOMMER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"It's awfully early in the process to be declaring the game over," he said. "The basic [technological] tools weren't even there a few years ago--and the top creative talent, whether it's Hollywood or otherwise, has not been focused on this space until recently."

He says the spoils will go to the site that styles itself not as an Internet entertainment business but as an entertainment business. And the company, he says, is focused on making a profit in two years.

In practical terms, that means Z.com has set its sights in two directions: creating programming and generating revenue.

To accomplish the first goal, the company wants to build what DiNunzio describes as a "library" of shows, which eventually can emerge into the bricks-and-mortar entertainment world to earn money in television, movies and other venues.

To build revenue, Z.com looks to broaden the definition of Internet advertising. In addition to the usual point and click ads, Z.com also wants to bring advertisers in with promotional sponsorships--similar, say, to Coca-Cola paying for Tom Hanks to drink a Coke in his latest movie.

It also wants to earn money by "co-creating content," with advertisers. DiNunzio insists Z.com can create programs based on a commercial product without sacrificing artistic integrity or triggering viewer cynicism.

"People are more willing to accept relevant product advertising if it's entertaining," he said.

Through it all, the company tries to keep its eye on the ball: to remember that its rivals are not just the other online sites but the myriad entertainment options available to potential viewers.

"This is show business. It's a business," DiNunzio said. "We have to demonstrate this is a profitable business."

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