Web Site eBay in Talks For Series

Wednesday, October 18th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Online auctioneer eBay is talking with TV networks about a possible series that would put cars, jewelry and other items on the electronic auction block and allow viewers to bid for them.

The show's content has yet to be determined ``but there are a lot of options available to us at this stage,'' eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said. Besides showcasing items for sale, the program might also feature profiles of eBay customers, he said.

The idea is in the ``very, very early stages of discussion'' with several networks, Pursglove said, declining to identify them.

ABC confirmed Tuesday it is weighing a potential eBay series for either ABC daytime or syndication. EBay and another unit of ABC's parent company, The Walt Disney Co., already operate a co-branded auction site that allows collectors to buy and sell items.

How the television version of eBay would operate — whether, for example, viewers would be able to place orders by telephone and on the Internet — has yet to be determined, Pursglove said.

The move by San Jose-based eBay to branch into television was greeted enthusiastically Tuesday by one industry analyst.

``I like the initiative a lot,'' said Mike May of Jupiter Research. Since eBay already has successfully cultivated online customers, it needs to reach out to those who aren't using the Internet, May said.

Because eBay is among the rare online commerce firms that's consistently turned a profit and has proven popularity with Internet users, it's bargaining with the networks from a position of strength.

``Their site is one of the stickiest on the Internet,'' May said, meaning it gets customers who come back and linger. EBay also has the advantage of offering TV networks more than merchandise.

``EBay has compelling commerce and interesting content. It's as much entertainment as a shopping destination,'' the analyst said.

In August, eBay was visited by 12.7 million people to rank 16th among 50 Internet properties, according to data from Media Metrix. Visitors spent an average of 120.8 minutes monthly at the site.

In its second-quarter operating results, eBay Inc. beat Wall Street expectations. For the quarter ending in June, the company earned $11.6 million on revenue of $97.4 million.

Shares of EBay dropped $6.88, or 11.5 percent, to $52.75 on the Nasdaq Stock Market on a day when a handful of well-known technology stocks fell sharply.