Last week, NBCUniversal announced that long-running and much-loved internet properties DailyCandy and Television Without Pity would be shut down for good on April 4 following the company's failed attempts to sell them.
But in a case of the customer is always right, even at the end, there is a silver lining. Though it was first reported that the content archives, which go back almost 15 years, would be closed to the communities that helped build them, vocal fans of the enduring brands got a reprieve of sorts: the sites are still exiting stage left, but both archives will stay open to the public.
Bad news for producers of the past decade and a half's worst shows; good news for our fans: TWoP's archives will stay up.— TVWithoutPity (@TVWithoutPity) April 2, 2014
Trailblazing TV commentary and recap site Television Without Pity launched in 2002 and was co-founded by Tara Ariano, David Cole and Sara Bunting. It began life in 1998, as Dawson's Wrap, a blog dedicated to affectionately mocking and dissecting WB teen juggernaut Dawson's Creek. From there, it expanded to other TV show coverage and called itself Mighty Big TV before changing its name again to Television Without Pity. The site was ultimately bought by NBCUniversal's Bravo network in 2007.
Bunting, Ariano and Cole exited TWoP in 2008 and now run the pop culture and humor site Previously.TV. Ariano said that news came as "a shock…it was a very weird day. We all got some touching tweets, and it's nice to feel like you were part of something that really meant something to someone." But even several years removed from the day-to-day operations, clearly TWoP fans still consider the founders an integral part of the site's DNA. Ariano noted that several thousand new users registered on Previously.TV's forums the day the closings were announced. Television Without Pity's forums will stay open until the end of May.
DailyCandy was launched by Dany Levy in 2000 as a fashion e-newsletter with several hundred readers. As it grew into a popular lifestyle hub, former AOL President Bob Pittman took notice and purchased a majority interest for $3 million in 2003. The site was bought by Comcast from his equity firm Pilot Group in 2008 for $125 million and Levy left her position as editor-in-chief in 2011.
As much as there's nostalgia and an impassioned fan base for DailyCandy, there is a question about whether these large media companies can package lifestyle content in such a way that will make people stand up and take notice. Indeed, last year, iVillage, a pioneering website for women was closed down by NBCUniversal and folded into Today.com. In a similar vein, Re/code also reported this week that Marissa Mayer is considering closing down women's lifestyle site Shine in favor of digital magazines focusing on fashion, décor and health.
Comcast and NBCUniversal first merged in 2011, and Comcast took full ownership of the media company last year. Whether the sites are shutting down because of a redundancy, low traffic or an inability to create synergy with other company holdings, it's hard to say what goes on internally in any company. But NBCUniversal arguably engendered some good will by listening to fans and keeping the history alive.