A sneak preview of The WB’s debut episode of “Jack & Bobby” on AOL was a big hit with the company’s broadband users, who viewed all or part of the commercial-free episode more than 700,000 times over the course of the eight days it was available.
“Jack & Bobby” was available to AOL for Broadband subscribers from Aug. 31 through Sept. 7. The 700,000 video streams for the show far surpassed the 150,000 video streams AOL for Broadband got with a showing of a repeat episode of The WB drama “Everwood” last season. Garth Ancier, chairman of The WB, said he was pleased with the debut episode’s performance on the service.
“This is a very large number, given the very small universe of AOL subscribers who could download it,” Mr. Ancier said. Out of AOL’s 24 million subscribers, AOL for Broadband accounts for 4.1 million.
The broadband access to “Jack & Bobby” is part of a larger effort by The WB to promote what it considers its most important show of the new season (TelevisionWeek, July 26). The network also took the unprecedented step of putting a DVD of the debut episode into 500,000 copies of last week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly.
“It’s all cumulative to build buzz and get people to a show we are really proud of,” Mr. Ancier said of “Jack & Bobby,” which was scheduled to premiere Sept. 12.
The online preview and DVD giveaway was a corporate affair-The WB, “Jack & Bobby” producer Warner Bros. Television, AOL and Entertainment Weekly all have the same parent company-Time Warner Inc.
AOL executives saw the show as a way to promote its broadband service and provide something unique to its current subscribers. Patricia Karpas, VP and general manager, AOL for Broadband, said the “Jack & Bobby” video stream “helped drive awareness for the show as well as provide AOL for Broadband members with a sneak peek.”
Five thousand users filled out an online survey about the preview. More than half of the respondents said they first heard of “Jack & Bobby” from the Internet service, while 90 percent said they will “make every effort” or are “very likely” to watch future episodes on The WB. In addition, more than 85 percent said they would recommend “Jack & Bobby” to a friend. Close to 90 percent said they “agree completely” that programming like the “Jack & Bobby” premiere adds to their overall satisfaction with AOL for Broadband.
This wasn’t The WB’s last foray into broadband previews. This week the 19 Tribune-owned WB-affiliated stations are making available the series opener of the new drama “The Mountain” on the local stations’ individual Web sites. Unlike “Jack & Bobby,” which was available only to domestic AOL for Broadband subscribers, anyone in the United States with Internet access can watch on the Tribune sites.
Mr. Ancier, who watched the AOL for Broadband episode in his hotel room while he was in Hawaii, said stunts like promoting premiering series on the Internet are becoming less the exception and more the norm.
“It’s what every network should be doing,” he said. `”‘It’s not enough to just put promos on the air. You’ve got to really try to get people excited about [your] product.”