March 17, 2007
Television Without Pity Sold to Bravo

News broke earlier this week that television network Bravo will buy popular recap and fan community forum site Television Without Pity.

The purchase, announced last Tuesday, has not included an abundance of information, other than that Bravo said in its press release that the Web site generates more than 1 million unique visitors each month and that the average time spent on the site by a visitor is 13 minutes, figures the network cited in support of its purchase of Television Without Pity.

The co-founders of the site, Sarah D. Bunting and Tara Ariano, will remain on in an editorial capacity after the sellout. There have been no indications as to whether there will be any noticeable editorial or aesthetic changes with the new Bravo ownership or not.

According to that announcement, "For starters, it means that TWoP will still be TWoP--that is to say, we'll be offering the same no-holds-barred commentary and critique we always have. Our new bosses dig what we do, and after all, they were the ones who launched Brilliant But Cancelled, the mid-season death watch which predicts the early demise of all the networks' new shows."

Instead, the owners point out that an expanded budget will allow them to "expand our coverage, in all direction" covering more shows and giving more in-depth coverage, including "trend stories, blogs, exclusive interviews, audio and video content."

Not surprising that people would be concerned, since Television Without Pity has become known for its cynical tone and "snarkiness." Of course, people are afraid that TWoP will get domesticated in the process of going legit.

For more on Television Without Pity, see this excerpt from Henry Jenkins' Convergence Culture.

I first wrote about Brilliant But Cancelled back in May, when Bravo first launched it. The site distributes short-lived series that had cult followings but were ultimately cancelled in their network run.

The potential profit in buying and expanding a fan-driven Web site like Television without Pity is understandable, but any fan distrust that the service will be watered down in the process is understandable. Let's hope that Bravo is as forward-thinking as the editors of TWoP have indicated and know not to mess with a winning formula, since TWoP has been one of the most vibrant sites for fan expression on the Web.

Either way, the expansion of TWoP services will be interesting to watch, as well as to see how fans adapt to podcasts and other potential products the site is considering in their expansion of coverage of the television industry.