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Bravo acquires TelevisionWithoutPity.com

In its first-ever acquisition, Bravo has picked TelevisionWithoutPity.com, a TV fan site. Co-founders Tara Ariano and Sarah Bunting will remain editors of the site (they met in a “Beverly Hills 90210″ chat room). The site pulls in one million uniques and 30 million page views a month. By adding the site to Bravo’s online properties — BravoTV.com, BrilliantButCancelled, OutzoneTV.com and GetTRIO.com — Bravo will double its total page views. The selling price was not released. Press release with more…

PRESS RELEASE – NEW YORK — March 13, 2007 — Bravo announced today the network’s first-ever media acquisition, TelevisionWithoutPity.com, a premiere internet destination for the discerning television “junkie.” This becomes Bravo’s latest addition to its portfolio of linked digital assets and broadband properties that includes BravoTV.com and the TRIO suite of channels: BrilliantButCancelled.com, OUTzoneTV.com and getTRIO.com, the recently launched newsletter and broadband site. TelevisionWithoutPity provides witty no-holds-barred episode recaps and fan forums for television’s most popular drama and reality shows. Details of the acquisition, which calls for the URL to remain www.TelevisionWithoutPity.com and link to the TRIO suite of channels, were not disclosed. The announcement was made today by Lauren Zalaznick, President, Bravo.

“TelevisionWithoutPity is an online brand destination for the impassioned and opinionated television viewer, which mirrors the exact attributes of Bravo’s core audience,” said Zalaznick. “This will broaden the scope of our sites to create a community where smart people with something to say about their favorite shows, past and present, can get together under the umbrella of Bravo’s pop sensibility.”

Described as “bitingly funny” by Time magazine and “the industry standard” by Entertainment Weekly, www.TelevisionWithoutPity.com has penetrated the pop culture television obsessed audience, drawing the devoted attention of viewers and Hollywood producers alike. With a signature smart and sardonic voice, the editorial staff from across the country summarizes more than 40 television shows into weekly “recaps.” The recaps combine a clever eye for detail with a healthy dose of cheeky commentary, sometimes deemed better than the actual episodes. Later this month “Brothers & Sisters,” “Men in Trees,” “Drive” and “The Wire” will be added to the existing recaps.

Passionate TelevisionWithoutPity groupies come to the fan forums for heated discussions on what they love to love and love to hate about television. The site attracts more than one million unique monthly visitors – who spend an average of 12.9 minutes on the site during a given visit – and receives approximately 30 million page views a month, according to comScore MediaMetrix and Internal Web Analytics Tracking. By adding TelevisionWithoutPity, Bravo elevates its presence on the web by more than 27% in unique visitors and more than doubles total page views.

TelevisionWithoutPity.com co-founders Tara Ariano (known online as Wing Chun) and Sarah D. Bunting (a.k.a. Sars) met in a “Beverly Hills 90210″ chat room and quickly bonded over their love-hate relationship with bad TV. Although based in two different cities (Ariano in Toronto and Bunting in Brooklyn, New York), together they created DawsonsWrap.com in the fall of 1998, a site devoted exclusively to the analysis, discussion and lobbing of rotten vegetables at “Dawson’s Creek.” Inspired by the positive response to DawsonsWrap.com, they expanded the site in September 1999 into its current form but called MightyBigTV.com with more than a dozen shows on the regular recap roster. In early 2002, the name changed and TelevisionWithoutPity.com officially was born.

As part of the acquisition, principal co-founders Ariano and Bunting will remain on as Editors, overseeing all content. David T. Cole (screen name Glark), co-founder and Ariano’s husband, who has served as Community Engineer and Lead Designer for the site, has been named Manager, Media Technology Production. Cole also will continue to oversee the popular fan forums.

“We only did this to make our ongoing project of stalking Tim Gunn a bit easier,” joke Bunting and Ariano. “Actually, it’s long been our dream to turn Television Without Pity into the fullest, richest, raddest, all-round best TV site on the internet, and with Bravo’s commitment and creativity behind us, we’re thrilled to start making that happen.”

And Cole quipped, “Leave me alone, I’m eating.”

As part of the overall deal, Bravo also acquired Fametracker.com, a pop culture site started by Ariano and partner Adam Sternbergh. Self-dubbed “the Farmer’s Almanac of celebrity worth,” the site is an e-zine with a humorous look at the culture of celebrity, and has collected accolades from MTV, Variety and Entertainment Weekly, among many others.

Ariano, a writer, editor, and website producer, earned her B.A. in English Literature from Brock University, and her M.A. from the University of Toronto. After she earned her Masters, she worked as a copywriter for a Los Angeles-based interactive agency, assisting such clients as Disneyland and Sega, and later on the editorial staff of Canadian general-interest monthly Saturday Night. Shortly after embarking upon full-time self-employment as a website producer, Ariano and partner Sternbergh founded Fametracker.com; TelevisionWithoutPity.com came a few months later.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Bunting majored in English/creative writing at Princeton University. She worked as a church secretary, a pool tester, a CD-ROM producer, a records clerk, and an antiquarian book dealer (not all at the same time) before founding TomatoNation.com — a website featuring essays and advice — in 1997. A chance online meeting with Ariano that same year led to the formation of Dawson’s Wrap, which in turn spawned TelevisionWithoutPity. A website producer, editor and writer, Bunting’s work has appeared in New York Magazine, Money, among others, as well as in the short-story collection You’re The Best (Kingfisher, 2006). She wrote, directed, and co-produced The Famous Ghost Monologues Off-Off-Broadway in 2004, and is the co-author (with Ariano) of Television Without Pity: 752 Things We Hate To Love (And Love To Hate) About TV (Quirk Books, 2006).

Cole began his career designing ads for, and later editing, the Brock University’s student newspaper; this background eventually led him to design for the burgeoning Internet. In 1995, Cole started working for the Los Angeles-based web design firm Jamison/Gold as art director where he helped design the first websites for the Nissan Pathfinder and Sony Playstation. As the founding director of Toronto-based web developer Uber Interactive, Cole continued specializing in websites for entertainment properties, working with clients in videogaming (Atari), TV series (CBC, Breakthrough Films), and music (Patty Griffin, the Rolling Stones). In addition to co-founding Fametracker.com and TelevisionWithoutPity.com, Cole more recently has founded the sites Videogamey.com and WhoInTheWhatNow.com (a daily word-association blog reliant on comments from its devoted readers). In 2002, Cole created Glarkware.com, an online retailer for his designs, which appear on apparel, buttons, magnets, paper products, and accessories.

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