Disney and Infoseek Launch GO.com with 8 Million Users

The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) and Infoseek Corp. (Nasdaq:SEEK) announced on Tuesday that their new joint venture is ready for prime time on the Internet. The GO Network is another mega-portal that integrates and links to popular sites for e-commerce and online shopping, as well as news and information.

On the one hand, the GO Network looks like a simple re-branding of Infoseek’s already popular search engine. On the other hand, with the full marketing support of Disney behind it, GO.com may become the launch-site of choice for the younger generation, especially if and when GO.com commercials begin to dominate the Disney Channel.

A spokesperson for the GO Network told the E-Commerce Times that a promotional campaign for the GO Network began in December with 20-second TV spots on ABC, ESPN, and Disney-owned cable channels. In addition, everywhere the Disney URL is named, GO.com is also being listed.

The companies estimated that, on its opening day, the GO Network would have more than 8 million registered users and a projected audience share of more than 36 percent. If so, this would make it one of the top five sites on the Internet. The 8 million figure apparently takes into account the combined base of users already registered separately with Infoseek, Disney, ABC, ESPN, and the other key alliance partners’ sites.

In any event, the Disney alliance gives Infoseek far more leverage to compete with other top Internet search engines like Excite and Lycos.

Excite has also been trying to make itself into a household name and attract the novice crowd, with its recent series of TV commercials touting “if he can do it, you can do it”, that end with the zip-zooming, in-your-face Excite logo. With kid-friendly content and ads on the Disney Channel, GO.com is likely to compete for this Internet novice market and a younger crowd.

Michael Eisner, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Co, said, “With GO Network, we are bringing a new level of functionality and entertainment to the Internet and, also in the Disney tradition, GO Network will feature an unprecedented degree of content protection for children and families.”

Quicklinks from the home page include ‘Buy a Video’, ‘Buy a Car,’ ‘Buy a Home’, and ‘Buy a Book’, representing just a sampling of the e-commerce options available at GO.com. The site also features a Shopping Section, with Infoseek ratings of 1, 2 or 3-stars to identify quality sites that sell online.

Universal registration is one of the helpful features for e-commerce on the GO Network. A single registration process enables users to register once anywhere on GO Network, and then have access to shopping across the entire network.

Additional Background

Based in Sunnyvale, ornia, Infoseek completed in November the acquisition of Starwave Corp., which was principally owned by The Walt Disney Co. In connection with that transaction, Disney became Infoseek’s principal shareholder, holding 43 percent of Infoseek’s outstanding common stock. Infoseek has commerce and/or content arrangements with entities that include AT&T, autobytel.com, Borders Group Inc., CMP Media Inc., Datek Online Inc., Microsoft Corp., PeopleLink Inc., UPS and Reuters.

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