iBelieve.com to Return With New Owner, New Approach
Rivals.com Founders Acquire Popular Christian Website
ANAHEIM, California, July 15, 2002 – iBelieve.com, one of the most active Christian websites when it launched in 2000, is returning with a new owner, a proven business model, and a renewed focus on being the premier online destination for the nation’s 90 million committed Christians.
Brentwood, Tenn.-based Jabez Networks, Inc. today announced it acquired the assets of iBelieve.com (www.iBelieve.com) from national Christian retailer Family Christian Stores (FCS) for undisclosed terms. FCS will remain affiliated with iBelieve.com as an e-commerce and marketing partner. When the site was shut down a year and a half ago, iBelieve.com had 60 ministry partners, 550,000 registered users, more than 2 million unique visitors, and was the top Christian site on the Internet.
Jabez Networks plans to rebuild iBelieve.com into the Internet’s first network of subscription-based Christian websites and expects initial partners to span a number of leading Christian organizations and service providers. Jabez relaunched the iBelieve.com site today as a free website with limited content and plans to offer the various subscription-based services in the next several months, in addition to a vast offering of free content and community features.
Jabez Networks brings a proven history of generating revenue through subscription-based Internet content, including success with the Rivals.com network. The Jabez management team pioneered the subscription-based online sports content model in 1996 with AllianceSports, the predecessor of Rivals.com. Rivals (www.Rivals.com) is among the top five sports sites on the Internet in traffic, the number one subscription-based sports site, and number one in “stickiness” as measured by average length of stay by visitors according to Jupiter Media Metrix.
“Like Rivals, iBelieve.com was the epitome of the dot-com craze with major venture capital investment and a huge marketing budget. Both sites filled a clear consumer need and grew rapidly to brand leadership in their respective categories, but their business models were not sustainable,” said Jerry Cover, chief executive officer of Jabez Networks. “By simply offering the most enticing portions of Rivals’ content under a subscription model, while continuing to provide a good quantity of free content and community features, we quickly turned that network around and became cash-flow positive in just seven months. We expect to do the same with iBelieve.com.”
The new iBelieve.com’s revenue model will be driven by partner and network-wide subscriptions, unlike its predecessor site, which generated revenues principally from advertising and product sales. All areas of the iBelieve.com Network are currently free for registered users. Subscriptions for some of the content will be phased in this fall and range from individual partner site subscriptions for $5.95 per month to run-of-the-network subscriptions for $9.95 per month. A great deal of content on the new iBelieve Network will always remain free, but the most exclusive and compelling types of content offered by iBelieve and its network partners will be offered under the new subscription services.
iBelieve.com is currently online with community areas such as chat rooms and a prayer request bulletin board, as well as some limited content from the original iBelieve.com site. The site’s channels – Family, Community, Entertainment, Inspiration and Resources – will be quickly filled with daily-refreshed content as new publishing partners, ministries and product and service suppliers join the iBelieve.com Network.
“A void exists online for the Christian community, and we intend to fill it with a network of relevant partners and with services and features that people desire” said Greg Gough, co-founder of Jabez Networks and president of iBelieve.com. “We have a tremendous asset in the iBelieve.com name and think that by applying our proven business model, we can create a compelling and viable Christian network on the Internet.”
Jabez Networks said it expects initial partners to include many of the top national ministries, several leading publishers, providers of multimedia content, as well as several leading syndicated talk show hosts and other content providers.
“We are providing and aggregating content, services and other online offerings, and experience shows us that this model works extremely well as long as the material is exclusive and compelling. It happened with cable television and it’s beginning to happen on the Internet with sites like WSJ.com, Classmates.com and our own Rivals.com network,” Gough added.
Internet research firm Jupiter Media Metrix predicts that revenues from paid online content will grow to $5.8 billion by 2006, up from $1.4 billion in 2002. In their March 2002 national consumer survey, 42% of online adults expect over time that people will have to pay for content on the Internet.
“The Internet is simply a new means of distribution for content – but with key advantages of immediacy and real-time customization – that we believe people will pay to use to access unique and compelling content. This has been the case for sports enthusiasts with Rivals.com, and we are confident it will be even more so with the much larger and passionate Christian community,” Gough said. “Christians seek to live their faith in everything they do. If iBelieve.com can re-establish itself as a trusted and all-encompassing resource for them in every aspect of their lives, we think they will place a premium on it and support it so it can continue to exist.”
Christians are one of the largest communities on the Internet and religion has consistently been a leading category online. According to recent studies by Barna Research Group, 84% of Americans think of themselves as Christians and by the year 2010, 50 million Americans will rely primarily or exclusively on the Internet for their faith-based experiences.
About Jabez Networks
Jabez Networks, Inc., an Internet company based in Brentwood, TN, specializes in subscription-based websites and content-management systems for businesses, churches, schools and other organizations. Jabez Networks’ partners also own and manage the leading sports network Rivals.com, FaithSite.com, which provides church content and hosting services for ministries and churches, as well as other properties. The Company was founded in 2000 to “expand its territories online” through leading technology solutions and products.
iBelieve.com aims to become the premier Christian lifestyle site on the Internet, featuring a broad array of compelling content, community offerings, inspiration and entertainment, and products and services. Based in Brentwood, Tenn., iBelieve.com was re-launched by Jabez Networks in July 2002 as the Internet’s first subscription-based network of Christian websites.