The news yesterday that Warner Bros. Television Group plans to launch TheWB.com as an online outlet to offer its catalog of popular programs and KidsWB.com to house its animated favorites are further reminders that broadband's infinite shelf space creates all kinds of new opportunities for broadcasters and studios ready to experiment and be creative.
I regard these moves as the latest evidence that industry players are beginning to understand how programming in a broadband world differs from business-as-usual approaches. If there is one word that captures the essence of the traditional world it would be "scarcity." Scarcity of time slots, distributors, eyeballs, financing, brands, advertising dollars, ideas, etc. The whole broadcasting and studio paradigm is built on a zero sum - and legitimate - idea that only a very small handful of all creative pursuits can succeed at any one time.
Broadband explodes the scarcity model, introducing a world of abundance in which every scarcity constraint is alleviated or erased. Abundance thinking has guided online retailers for years: offering incremental inventory is dirt-cheap, and if made easily discoverable, it will find its buyers. In fact, as the incongruous popularity of "Arrested Development" on Hulu already shows, latent demand for catalog programming can actually be quite strong.
Evidence is growing that other video providers also understand the abundance concept. Recently other networks and studios have also launched their own efforts to monetize catalog programming. At my recent NAB panel, the head of CTV's 2012 Olympics coverage noted that ALL Olympic activity will be available for online viewing (their mantra is "Every Second Counts"). Also at NAB, I was introduced to a stealthy new initiative to make available high-quality archived video that has never been available online. I expect plenty more examples to come.
To be sure, broadband's abundance creates all kinds of new challenges: More audience fragmentation. New promotion and user navigation issues. More monetization complexity. New operational and management tasks. And so on.
Yet broadband's abundance should be viewed as a direct challenge to the historical scarcity model on which broadcasters' and studios' strategies have long been built. Industry participants who recognize the new world order and embrace it will be best-positioned to succeed.
WARNER BROS PRESS RELEASE
Warner Bros. Television Group Unveils New Digital Initiatives, Including the Launch of TheWB.com and KidsWB.com
The Warner Bros. Television Group (WBTVG) today unveiled two new broadband destinations and other key components of its multiplatform digital media business strategy at a New York press conference. The announcements, made by Bruce Rosenblum, President, Warner Bros. Television Group, include:
·The launch of TheWB.com, a premium, ad-supported, video-on-demand, interactive and personalized network
·The launch of KidsWB.com (formerly referred to as T-Works), a premium, ad-supported destination built around youth-oriented, immersive entertainment
·Advertiser support: Charter advertising and promotional partners include Mattel, McDonald's and Johnson & Johnson
·Distribution and marketing partners: Inaugural partners will include Comcast Cable, Fancast.com, AOL, a number of mobile carriers, and many more. Additionally, WBTVG has created an application on Facebook® Platform for TheWB.com which will allow seamless integration of Facebook's social utility on TheWB.com, and TheWB.com's entertainment content on Facebook.
·Essence: Rosenblum also elaborated on another cross-divisional initiative, the multiplatform partnership between WBTVG and Time Inc.'s Essence Communications, previously announced April 21.
"These destinations are perfect examples of our digital strategy to create targeted, niche destinations that present a fresh and compelling point of view to audiences,"said Rosenblum. "In much the same way TMZ has, these initiatives enable us to create new brands and reimagine existing ones for a multiplatform playing field. They are complementary to our thriving traditional business and share the same vision of original episodic storytelling.”
Scheduled to Beta launch in early May with a wide launch planned for the end of August, TheWB.com will target Adults 16–34 and feature the re-release of a collection of The WB Network's most popular series and other successful programming, as well as original series created specifically for TheWB.com.
Designed for children aged 6–12, KidsWB.com marks the first time that characters from across all of the Studio's libraries of iconic animated properties – including Warner Bros. Animation, Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera and DC Comics – have been assembled in a single online destination where they can interact with their next generation of fans. KidsWB.com will feature a wealth of classic, original and contemporary animated programming from some of the industry's most acclaimed creators, along with more than 100 animation-themed games.
These announcements follow the April 21 news that Time Inc.'s Essence Communications would be teaming up with WBTVG on a series of initiatives that will expand the Essence brand across a number of platforms, including the Internet and television. One of the first projects to come from the new, cross-divisional collaboration is the late summer relaunch of an expansive new web destination at Essence.com – created in partnership with WBTVG's Telepictures Productions – which aims to be the ultimate online destination for African-American women.
In addition to the expansion of Essence.com, Telepictures will work to develop content based upon the Essence brand for both television and original digital programming for broadband. The first project to result will be "Extra on Essence,"an original digital series for Essence.com hosted by Tanika Ray, correspondent and weekend co-anchor of the daily entertainment news magazine program "Extra." Additionally, the relationship will include the print edition of the magazine, with "Extra"contributing news that will be featured in Essence magazine's entertainment section on a regular basis.
Also highlighted were the latest developments at another WBTVG digital venture, MomLogic.com. The ultimate online destination and community for moms of all ages, MomLogic.com has introduced a series of new customization and personalization features which allow users to access the content that most pertains to them based on their different stages of parenting and ages of their children.
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