NBC network to compete with its Boston affiliate online

NBC has hired a city editor and contracted with freelancers to write for the site, which will be called nbcboston.com.
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NBC’s new Boston Web site could lead to competition between the network and WHDH for content and advertisers, and possibly create confusion among viewers who associate the two.

NBC plans to launch a Boston news and entertainment Web site this month that will directly compete with its local affiliate, WHDH-TV.

The network has created 10 similar Web sites in markets where it owns and operates affiliates, including Miami, New York and Los Angeles. In all those cases, the local stations are partners with the network, but not in Boston.

WHDH is owned by Sunbeam Television, based in Miami. NBC approached the company about cooperating, but it declined. The decision came almost a year after WHDH and NBC publicly argued over the network’s plan to air “The Jay Leno Show” at 10 p.m.

The NBC Web site will focus on lifestyle trends and community news. NBC has hired a city editor and contracted with freelancers to write for the site, which will be called nbcboston.com.

Boston’s market has become highly competitive, and news Web sites there are popular. Boston.com, owned by the “Boston Globe” newspaper, is the most popular with 4 million visitors in December. The most popular of the local TV Web sites was thebostonchannel.com, the Web site of WCVB-TV, which had more than 1 million visitors last month. WHDH’s Web site had 415,000 unique visitors last month, up by 100,000 from November.

Media analysts said NBC’s new Boston Web site probably will create competition between the network and WHDH for content and advertisers, and possibly create confusion among viewers who associate the two.