The WB, Kids’ WB Live Again Online
Warner Bros. Television Group will resurrect its former broadcast network, The WB, as a new ad-supported Web video-based interactive site, TheWB.com. The site will feature some of the studio’s most popular shows from its library targeted to the 16- to 34-year-old demographic.
Warner Bros. also will launch KidsWB.com, a site aimed at ages 6-11, featuring the studio’s collection of animated favorites, from classic Looney Tunes sketches to more recent fare.
Both sites are touted as “interactive and personalized,” allowing users to create playlists and communities based around their preferred programming.
TheWB.com will include shows from its broadcast lineup, including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Everwood” and “Roswell,” in addition to shows produced by Warner Bros. Television such as “The OC,” “Veronica Mars” and “Friends.” Viewers will be able to watch episodes of the series and interact with other fans.
In an effort to dig deep into the social-networking sphere, TheWB.com has partnered with Facebook.com to allow users to view content through an application on the social-networking site. Similarly, TheWB.com users will be able to check their Facebook accounts. Both sites will allow users to visit the other without leaving the original.
KidsWB.com takes a nod from virtual worlds and allows visitors to create customized avatars for use on the site. By viewing clips or playing games, users will be able to earn points toward digital assets, such as hidden videos, additional games and avatar accessories.
Through these digital properties and development, Warner Bros. will work with advertisers to deliver content to these younger, niche audiences.
These online networks also will include original short-form content and programming. TheWB.com will have original series from “The OC’s” Josh Schwartz and “Laguna Beach’s” Gary Auerbach, while KidsWB.com will include “Plastic Man” and “The Wizard of Oz” in its digital lineup.
The WB ended its run as a broadcast network when it merged with UPN to create The CW in 2006.
Although TheWB.com online network will feature some shows currently on The CW and others that are popular in the same demographic, Warner Bros. Television Group President Bruce Rosenblum said Warner Bros. is “fully committed to The CW,” reinforcing the notion that this venture and the broadcast TV network are separate businesses.
Content on TheWB.com will not be exclusive; it will remain syndicated across several digital outlets, including Hulu.com.
Although Mr. Rosenblum did not disclose numbers related to the cost of these initiatives, he did say Warner Bros. is “making a meaningful investment” and is “taking it seriously.”
These sites take a page from the TMZ.com book. TMZ got its start as a popular celebrity news Web site and then became a popular first-run syndicated TV show.
The ventures in digital still appear to be experimental for the studio. In terms of syndication and DVD sales for these library shows, Mr. Rosenblum said the company is “not seeing a diminution of value in the short run,” although “some reduction in value in the long run is yet to be determined.”
Earlier this month, The CW conducted a digital experiment of its own by keeping the newest episodes of “Gossip Girl” off its site, CWTV.com, in hopes of improving broadcast ratings.
KidsWB.com launches today with a rollout of programming. TheWB.com will launch publicly by the end of August.
Comcast has been signed as the initial distributor for content from both sites, putting the sites' content on its entertainment and listings site Fancast.com as well as its video-on-demand service.
2:30 p.m.: Added final paragraph