Warner Bros. International Television Distribution (WBITD) is embarking on a new strategy to launch a number of branded, video-on-demand, non-linear channels on a subscription and advertiser supported basis over a variety of delivery platforms that will bring the Studio’s film and television series to viewers around the globe in a new way, it was announced today by Jeffrey R. Schlesinger, President, Warner Bros. International Television.
The new channels will be dubbed Warner TV and will build upon the successful linear Warner Channel that has been operating in Latin America for over 10 years. The initiative is intended to create Warner Bros.-branded entertainment destinations that will provide consumers with around-the-clock, on-demand access to top quality programming on services consisting primarily of content produced and distributed by the Studio.
In the UK, Warner TV is available on Virgin Media’s digital cable platform and on BT’s IPTV television service. Warner TV is prominently featured on Virgin Media’s “TV Choice on Demand” and BT’s BT Vision SVOD services, with branded gateways to the service on the first page of the channel listings.
The service is available to all on-demand subscribers and is not sold on a separate a la carte basis. Warner TV is the first branded entertainment channel in the UK devoted to TV series programming from a single studio provider and is one of the few branded destinations that is not associated with a linear channel in the UK.
The Warner TV service in the UK features episodes of the following series: the Emmy® Award-winning The West Wing, created by Aaron Sorkin; the acclaimed hit drama Nip/Tuck, starring Dylan Walsh, Julian McMahon and Joely Richardson; The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, starring Will Smith; pop-culture phenomenon The O.C.; Joey, starring Matt LeBlanc and produced by three executive producers of Friends; sci-fi thriller Babylon 5; drama series Close to Home and comedy “All of Us,” among many others.
Additional series to become available throughout the first year include the blockbuster drama ER; the phenomenal hit comedy Friends; the current #1 U.S. television comedy, Two and a Half Men, starring Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones; action-adventure hit Smallville; acclaimed comedy The New Adventures of Old Christine, starring Emmy® winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus; suspense thriller Supernatural and more.
“We’re thrilled to launch Warner TV in the UK with Virgin and BT as our valued partners in bringing this new branded entertainment service to UK consumers,” said Schlesinger. “We remain committed to finding new and innovative ways to make our programming accessible to viewers at their convenience, and we are excited to continue delivering quality motion pictures and television programs from Warner Bros. to audiences around the world via these branded channels.”
WBITD has previously announced a deal with Japan’s USEN Corporation for a Warner TV channel on USEN’s ad-supported broadband broadcasting service, GyaO. Warner TV launched on GyaO in September, featuring motion pictures including all four Lethal Weapon films and The Island, as well as episodes of the popular television series Friends, ER and The West Wing.
More than 100 Warner Bros. titles are scheduled for release on Warner TV on GyaO, as well as via USEN’s SVOD service, GyaO NEXT. This service is available on the open Internet but geo-filtered for Japan only to protect rights holders of the programming outside of Japan. There is no charge to the user of GyaO for viewing the programming. However, it will be viewed with advertising that cannot be skipped.
Additionally, the Studio launched another Warner TV service on the Free IPTV platform in France on a subscription basis. Soft launched in July, this service has already attracted over 25,000 subscribers paying E 5.99 per month for access. This service is a combination of feature films and television series made available after their initial telecast on linear terrestrial broadcasters.
A second deal has also been closed in France with Orange, which will see a series-based Warner TV zone launched on their IPTV television on-demand service later this year.
According to Schlesinger, “We also plan to announce a number of other branded SVOD, AVOD and linear channels in a variety of countries during the upcoming months. Many of these negotiations are in final stages and will be completed shortly.
We feel these new services will be a compelling offering for digital cable platforms, IPTV operators and broadband aggregators looking for high-quality programming with a world-class entertainment brand. The fact that in most countries outside Latin America there is not a Warner linear channel makes this offering even more appealing as it will be viewed as something new and distinct by subscribers and viewers.”
The launch of these channels follows the long-term success of the Warner Channel in Latin America, a linear branded programming service delivering movies, television series, animation and more to more than 20 countries throughout Latin America.
Programming available via Warner Channel includes current TV series Without a Trace, Two and a Half Men, ER, Gossip Girl, Chuck, Smallville, Supernatural and The New Adventures of Old Christine, among others; library series including Friends, The West Wing and The O.C., among others; and feature films including Se7en and Interview with the Vampire, among many others.