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The WB, Not TV

May 1st, 2008

The WB Network – taken off-air when it merged with UPN to form CW – is back. But, not on television. Soon, you’ll be able to endlessly watch reruns on the WB’s website.

Best known for “Gilmore Girls,” “Dawson’s Creek” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” the WB was a haven for women 16 to 34. The WB’s website will bring all those back – plus other well-known Warner TV productions like “Friends,” “The O.C.” and original content developed just for the site.

Other networks have added commercial-supported episodes for existing shows or joined online TV outlets like Joost where old shows are available. But both of these tactics have been secondary efforts. The new WB.com, on the other hand, is the first of its kind to be independent and fully-focused on programming for the site.

This marks a dramatic change for television. And it works for the WB’s main audience of young women who don’t necessarily associate their favorite shows with the boob tube.

This is good news for marketers. If WB.com follows the models of other commercial-supported episodes, each one will have a single sponsor that gets four or so 30-second spots during the show. That’s a lot when there’s only one advertiser per episode. And for once, there’s no choice between Option A—reliable old TV—and Option B—shiny, new, online advertising. If you want to reach women 16 to 34, it’s got to be online. Some brands will find this liberating.

With the WB.com, advertisers have an opportunity to demonstrate their brand in multiple ways to a captive audience. It could be traditional commercials, an interactive game or a funny video. Since it’s only 30-seconds, there’s little to no chance that the viewer is going anywhere—not to get a snack and not to use the restroom.

Warner Bros. Television, which has been around since 1955, is not the first to put TV shows online. But they are the first to dive in without the safety net of traditional TV. Let’s hope they swim.

Posted Under: Innovation & Technology
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