(April 28, 2008 – New York) – The Warner Bros. Television Group is launching TheWB.com, a premium, ad-supported, video-on-demand, interactive and personalized network, it was announced today by Bruce Rosenblum, President, Warner Bros. Television Group (WBTVG). The site will Beta launch in early May.
The next step in WBTVG’s strategic expansion into digital production and broadband distribution, TheWB.com represents a new programming platform for WBTVG and aims to be the premiere destination for original dramatic programming on the Internet. The site is aimed at the Adults 16–34 demographic highly coveted by advertisers, with an emphasis on women, and will consist of four main elements: original programming created or acquired specifically for TheWB.com, the re-release of a collection of The WB Network’s most popular series and other successful programming, a commitment to interactivity, and an extensive network of distribution partners.
TheWB.com’s debut also features the unveiling of an original application that will launch on Facebook® Platform and allow seamless integration of Facebook’s social utility on TheWB.com, and TheWB.com’s entertainment content on Facebook. (See supplemental material for more information about Facebook.) Additionally, TheWB.com’s shows will be distributed across the Internet, on television and in the wireless space via a variety of preferred partners, including Comcast Cable, Fancast.com, and AOL. Johnson & Johnson has signed on to be the charter sponsor of TheWB.com at launch.
“The launch of TheWB.com represents a natural progression of the Warner Bros. Television Group’s digital strategy and complements our core business, which is based upon episodic storytelling, first-class distribution and providing value to partners through advertising in a premium environment,” said Rosenblum.
During the Beta launch, select fans will be able to start using the site as it continues to develop. Beta members will be able to participate in the expansion of TheWB.com, with new content rolling out over time and the site evolving based, in part, upon user feedback.
“We want to continue the Warner Bros. tradition of authentic voices creating compelling programming for this new digital canvas,” said Craig Erwich, Executive Vice President of Warner Horizon Television, who also oversees TheWB.com on behalf of the Studio. “The office water cooler has moved, and fans of TheWB.com can instantly engage with our content and interact with one another through the site, through the Facebook application, or on their own web sites and blogs. We are working with some of the finest talent in our business to create powerful and innovative programming that will fuel this community.”
TheWB.com will feature an exclusive slate of original series from creative talent such as director/producer McG (the upcoming “Terminator 4,” “Supernatural,” the “Charlie’s Angels” films) and writer/producer Josh Schwartz (“Gossip Girl,” “Chuck,” “The O.C.”), among others, launching on the site within the first year. All original content for TheWB.com will be released under the Studio 2.0 banner, WBTVG’s division for original digital programming, both live-action and animation, created for broadband and wireless.
McG is partnering with production team Big Fantastic (“Prom Queen”) on “Sorority Forever,” an innovative mystery/drama that peeks behind the walls of one of the most intriguing secret societies in the world: the sorority. Separately, McG is also teaming up with the creators of the hit Internet series “Pink” on “Exposed,” a thriller about a college student haunted by a hidden past and trying to remain undercover.
Schwartz and acclaimed movie/TV music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas (“Chuck,” “Gossip Girl,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Mad Men”) are developing an untitled project set in the music world which takes viewers to the front of the line and behind the soundboard of a fictional Hollywood rock club, chronicling the lives and loves of the club’s employees, patrons and musicians. The series will also feature on-camera performances by bands both established and unknown.
Other original programming planned for TheWB.com includes “Chadam,” a 3D animation project from cutting-edge artist Alex Pardee and producer Jason Hall of HDFILMS Inc.; “Rich Girl/Poor Girl,” a reality series from Gary Auerbach (“Laguna Beach,” “Newport Harbor”) which finds a wealthy Orange County, Calif. girl swapping lives with a low-income Los Angeles teen; and “High Drama: Against All Oz,” an unscripted series from James Percelay (“Saturday Night Live”) which documents the production of a big-budget high-school musical. Acquired series include the Australian surf drama “Blue Water High”; “jPod,” a quirky soap set in the world of a video game design company; and “Dangerous,” in which a female government official infiltrates a car-theft gang.
In addition to original and acquired programming, TheWB.com will also feature full episodes from a dynamic lineup of programs that have shaped popular culture and inspired devoted followings over the past decade, including “Friends,” “Smallville,” “One Tree Hill,” “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” “All of Us,” “The O.C.,” “Gilmore Girls,” “The Wayans Bros.,” “Veronica Mars,” “Everwood,” and “Roswell,” among others to be announced. The site will capitalize on the intense association fans have with these landmark series and, through the use of new technology, will make the experience of watching them a new one. Viewers will be able to communicate about these programs in a very personal way through a state-of-the-art community and social networking environment. Users will now be able to take ownership of these cherished characters and relationships and bring them into their homes on their own terms, customizing, reordering, re-editing and reinterpreting these shows in a very personal way.
“These hit shows still have an incredible amount of equity with their audiences, who grew up with these characters and went through significant events in their lives just as some of the characters did on the programs,” said Brent Poer, General Manager, TheWB.com. “And now, through TheWB.com, users will be able to take an unprecedented level of control over their own entertainment experience by easily editing, remixing, and literally ‘playing’ with their favorite shows. We’re giving the users final cut.”
An inaugural distribution partner for TheWB.com is Comcast, which will offer programming on multiple advertiser-supported platforms, including its online entertainment destination, Fancast.com, and its video-on-demand (VOD) service. Series available for free streaming on Fancast.com include “Smallville,” “One Tree Hill,” “Friends,” “The O.C.,” “Gilmore Girls” and others. Selected series available on the cable VOD platform include “The O.C.,” “One Tree Hill” and “Veronica Mars,” among others, all at no additional cost. Comcast will also have access to WBTVG’s classic TV content on Fancast.com and VOD, which includes more than 700 episodes of series like “CHiPs,” “Falcon Crest,” “Alice,” “The Jetsons,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Spenser: For Hire,” “The Fugitive,” “Wonder Woman” and dozens more. Additionally, WBTVG announced today that Comcast and Fancast.com will also serve as an inaugural distribution partner for programming from the newly announced KidsWB.com, a premium, ad-supported destination built around youth-oriented, immersive entertainment.
“Comcast will have access to more than 1,000 TV episodes from the Warner Bros. library that it will make available for free streaming on Fancast.com and on video-on-demand. For the first time, consumers will have the ability to watch Warner Bros.’ hit series, kids’ shows and classic TV programs wherever and whenever they want to watch them,” said Matt Bond, Executive Vice President, Content Acquisition for Comcast. “Adding Warner Bros.’ brand and vast catalog of television entertainment across platforms is part of Comcast’s Project Infinity, our vision to make exponentially more content available to consumers online and on TV.”
AOL will feature a WB.com branded channel. The broadband channel will stream full-length episodes of series featured on TheWB.com.
The creation of TheWB.com affirms WBTVG’s new media business strategy to build new brands and programming destinations, create compelling original online content, distribute that content on all platforms in ways that best serve consumers and advertisers while creating value, and establish direct relationships between advertisers and the audience in a creative content environment.
As with previous WBTVG online destinations TMZ.com and MomLogic.com, WBTVG’s Digital Media Sales group – headed by Michael Teicher, Executive Vice President, Media Sales – will handle the ad inventory. Since its formation in April 2007, WBTVG’s Digital Media Sales unit has quickly become a leader in high-quality online brand advertising sales, handling all multiplatform commercial inventory for both the broadband and wireless marketplaces.
About Warner Bros. Television Group
The Warner Bros. Television Group oversees the entire portfolio of Warner Bros. television businesses, including worldwide production, traditional and digital distribution and broadcasting. WBTVG is committed to creating, producing and distributing content across all traditional, emerging digital and future platforms in the evolving entertainment and media landscape. In the traditional television arena, WBTVG produces primetime, first-run, cable and animation series which are distributed worldwide. WBTVG is also an innovative leader in developing new business models for the evolving digital television marketplace, including ad-supported video-on-demand as well as broadband and wireless destinations featuring original content produced by WBTVG. The Group provides unmatched digital media sales opportunities tailored to clients seeking multiplatform campaigns across broadcast, cable, broadband and wireless outlets. Warner Bros. Entertainment is also a partner with CBS in The CW Television Network.