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'Extra' Host Maria Menounos Launches AfterBuzz TV

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"What started off as our version of a poker night, having fun talking about 'Breaking Bad,' turned into something more," says Maria Menounos, in between shooting segments for the celebrity news show "Extra."

Menounos is talking about AfterBuzz TV, the site she launched this week in partnership with Bing and Akamai. She and filmmaker Keven Undargaro created the site as a way to discuss their favorite shows (such as "Breaking Bad") and include comments from a wider audience. The site was in beta for about 10 month, but formally launched this week.

AfterBuzz TV's discussions are like sports wrap-up shows, says Menounos, but for other programming.

The site has grown since launch and now includes over 100 hosts and a worldwide viewership. It produces over 25 hours of programming each week on popular shows such as "Gossip Girl," "American Idol," "Mad Men," and "Celebrity Apprentice."

Not surprisingly, AfterBuzz TV will feature "Dancing with the Stars" talk next season, when Menounos is a contestant. She plans on finishing the live reality show tapings, then dashing across town to her AfterBuzz TV studio for a live talk with viewers.

Bing is sponsoring the site's shows, and Menounos will create branded Bing segments. MSN will run ads for the site. Partner Akamai will handle the live streaming. Prior to using Akamai, Menounos says the site tried a few different hosts, but kept exceeding their bandwidth. She's pleased to have found a home with Akamai, and appreciates its detailed analytics.

"I'm a Boston girl, so I'm happy we're with a Boston-based company," Menounos adds.

AfterBuzz TV shows are also distributed through Stitcher and as iTunes podcasts.

"I think that everyone nowadays is really interested in this space," says Menounos. "It's the way of the future."

Menounos says she and Undergaro were inspired after seeing the rush of online discussions following the "Lost" finale. They realized that people were naturally turning to the web for community and conversation about TV. She emphasizes that AfterBuzz TV is a place for fans, where they can indulge their love of favorite shows free of celebrity gossip.

"It's one of the few places where you can really just talk about the show," says Menounos. "It's all kind of new territory and we're kind of rolling along with it and having as much fun as we can."

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