WB Online, Telepics plan syndie-style net

Warner Bros. Online and Telepictures Distribution have announced plans for CityWeb, a World Wide Web-based service consisting of content created by local broadcasters around the country.

Warner Bros. will provide national content to participating stations and sell the service on an exclusive market-by-market basis, like a syndicated program. Stations will pay for the service with five 30-second spots a week in early fringe local newscasts.

Potential to customize

CityWeb will combine resources of CNN Interactive, Netscape, search-engine Lycos and Telepictures Distribution. According to Warner Bros., local TV stations will be able to “establish customized, market-specific, revenue-generating sites on the World Wide Web.”

Sites will carry entertainment and news programming. CityWeb will allow stations to offer news, sports, TV listings, community affairs information, classified advertising and other content.

Ad support is hope

Netscape will list CityWeb on its own site, making its availability known to the legions of Netizens using Netscape’s browser. Warner Bros. anticipates that TV stations will raise revenues for the sites through ad sales.

The CityWeb project is headed up by Jim Moloshok, senior VP, Warner Bros. Online; and Scott Carlin, exec VP, Telepictures Distribution. Warner Bros. will market CityWeb through locally customized print and on-air promos. The company also plans to launch a national media campaign.

A WB spokesman said his sales force was beginning to speak with affiliates this week about signing up as content providers. The timing coincides with the NATPE convention in New Orleans next week, where Warner Bros. and other syndicators will meet with station chiefs.

Other companies, such as America Online and Yahoo, already offer online services customized to specific regions. WB, however, may have more success given its syndication relationships and leverage with local stations. If that proves to be true, the service could prove to be an interesting new revenue source for Warner Bros.

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