There's no "official" announcement, but a blogger who works for the Tribune Co. is putting out the word that the company is turning Metromix, its online entertainment guide in Chicago, into a national site. It's up now in two other Tribune markets: Baltimore and Orlando.
In some ways this development harkens back to the dot-com boom, when major media companies thought the winning strategy was to create new national brands. (At Knight Ridder, where I was new media director for the Miami Herald, we rolled out an entertainment guide called JustGo in all of the company's markets.) This created internal tension at the papers and also some consumer confusion, since those papers already had print entertainment guides with other brand names.
I see at least one important but subtle difference this time around: The Tribune Co. isn't abandoning the newspaper's traditional brand names in local markets. For instance, the site in Orlando carries the newspaper's CityBeat brand name but says it's "powered by Metromix."
Since the Tribune Co. generally does a good job of research when launching new products, company executives presumably believe that a national brand (with a possible presence in the nation's top three markets, since the Tribune has papers in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago) will yield significant new ad dollars.