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Z.com Tries Its Hand at Web Programming

Z.com (http://www.z.com) is an entertainment site with a slight attitude. The content on the site is peppered with well-known singers and comedians, as well as game shows and animation shorts. The company is looking to provide a little bit of something for everyone, injected with a sense of attitude and independence. The result is cable network-like programming delivered in a forum where it's okay to insinuate or just be downright outrageous.

Z.com's "Dare for Dollars" game show caught press at the end of June in New York's Village Voice after competing game show "I Bet You Will" claimed that "Dare for Dollars" was more degrading. The feud caught the attention of the National Enquirer, and the next thing you know "Dare for Dollars" was partnered with Sally Jesse Rafael to appear in one of America's finest forum's for entertainment - the talk show. The Sally episode highlights a man who vows to break the world record for the most live worms eaten, in order to pay for his dog's operation.

Karen Drasler, spokesperson for Z.com, says that "Dare for Dollars" is intended to be light-hearted, not to exploit the misfortunes of its guests. She believes that this is the difference that will lead to Z.com's success. Still, Drasler stressed that all programming will be in the testing stage until the company receives firm numbers and fully understands what the consumer is looking for in web programming. For now, Z.com seems to be testing out the shock factor, combined with the allure of big celebrity names. The site is clearly going for mass appeal, though, and most of its content is optimized for 56Kbps connections.

"DEN felt like they knew their market really well. We don't believe that there is a beacon of success in Internet programming, such as sitcoms are on TV," Drasler said.

One of Z.com's founding investors is Idealab!, the provider of funding for such ventures as carsdirect.com and tickets.com. Other investors include Basic Entertainment, 3Arts Entertainment, Guy Oseary of Maverick Records, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, producer of such films as Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop, and Guy Oseary of Maverick Records.

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