TheWB.com Set for Aug. 27 Launch

NEW YORK TheWB.com, now in beta, will launch on Aug. 27, offering classic series that aired on the old WB TV network along with new programs.

Warner Bros. Television Group is promoting the new site as “the next great network that won’t be televised.” But cable operator Comcast will offer classic WB series via its video-on-demand service.

The site has signed Johnson & Johnson as a charter sponsor.

The online video network will offer classic series Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, Smallville and Gilmore Girls, among others, along with new shows from producers McG and Josh Schwartz. The McG series Sorority Fever will premiere online Sept. 8. Schwartz is producer of the current CW hit Gossip Girl.

As part of the launch, TheWB.com will feature an original application that will launch on Facebook allowing integration of Facebook’s social network onto The WB.com, and offer TheWB.com’s content on Facebook.

TheWB.com’s shows will also be distributed free across the Internet on Comcast’s Filmcast.com, and Comcast will make available more than 1,000 TV episodes from the Warner library via the cable operator’s video-on-demand service. AOL will also feature a WB.com branded channel that will stream full episodes of classic WB series.

In a statement, WBTVG said TheWB.com “affirms its new media business strategy to build new brands and programming destinations, create compelling original online content and to distribute that content on all platforms in ways that best serve consumers and advertisers.”

There have been undercurrents that WBTVG is starting TheWB.com because executives at the company are not pleased that when The WB Network and UPN ceased to operate two years ago and merged, the WB brand, which was built up over more than a decade while the network was on the air, disappeared from site.

WBTVG president Bruce Rosenblum has denied it, but there are also rumors that the company is starting the Web site as a trial balloon, and if successful in drawing in its targeted 18-34 female audience in significant numbers, that the company might start a WB cable TV network.

Warner parent company, Time Warner, also owns Time Warner Cable, and the new WBTVG partnership with Comcast could mean an amicable relationship with that cable operator, giving a WB network launch on cable a good base with two major cable operators.

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