Warner Bros. gets serious about web 2.0

10 09 2007

Following last week’s news about Warner Bros. online video deal with ABC, comes this coverage in the New York Times, reporting that the studio is to ramp up the creation of original programming for the web, marking a significant change of strategy.

Warners had previously hedged its bets on getting advertisers to take on the risk of funding such content, but the new initiative means that it will dig into its own pocket to get a slate of 24 new web formats into production. But the sums involved are still small beer compared to the traditional side of the business: the two dozen new titles will cost US $3 million, equivalent to funding required for an hour of prime time TV drama.

The new slate includes mini-movies, games and episodic TV shows such as:

  • The Jeannie Tate Show — a 10-parter about a neurotic mother, who presents her own TV talk show from her minivan;
  • A puppet comedy for grown-ups, created by the Jim Henson Company;
  • An online dating game, from the producer of Gilmore Girls;
  • An animated spin-off from The Wizard of Oz;
  • Viral, a tongue-in-cheek mockumentary from Joey Mandarino and David Young, charting the fortunes of a studio trying to come up with the next big online hit (think Seinfeld for the digital age);
  • And an, as yet, to be disclosed project from Joseph McGinty Nichol, one of the directors of Charlie’s Angels.

The studio has also announced its answer to Second Life: T-Works, an immersive web experience based on its Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera and DC Comics franchises, fusing elements of a virtual world, social networking and games. The new site, launching in Spring 2008, will run full-length episodes of cartoon classics, such as Bugs Bunny, Scooby Doo and The Flintstones alongside the new web-exclusive short-form content outlined above.

Users will be able to create their own avatars, based on Warners’ toon characters, as well as video mash-ups and profiles. Significantly, users will also be able to embed material both on third party sites, such as social networks, and on their own desktops.

Chinese social networks: business models

4 08 2007

Adding to an earlier post on Chinese video sharing sites, here are some downloadable interviews with Victor Koo, CEO of Youku.com and Gary Wang, CEO of Tudou.com.

Fox, MySpace raise the game on web video

27 07 2007


MySpace and US broadcast net Fox have teamed with The Producers Guild of America for ‘The Storyteller Challenge’, a scheme which is billed to give up-and-coming filmmakers their own showcase on MySpace plus, for the best two entries, US $25K and development deal with Fox.

As posted previously, this mirrors a similar move by Sony’s newly re-christened social network Crackle.

Depending on which way you want to see it, it’s either a deeply cynical ploy by all concerned to squeeze more for less out of aspiring filmmakers, or a democratisation of opportunity for the next gen of talent.

In any event, the aim to raise the bar of their respective offers with more polished content can’t be entirely unrelated to a couple of recent pieces of research, such as this week’s Pew/Internet Online Video study, which indicate growing consumer preference for professionally-produced (vs. ‘amateur’) content. It’s also interesting to witness further evidence of the trend for the best produced-for-web content having the potential to make the leap on to TV.