In an effort to protect its lucrative “The Muppet Show” and “Sesame Street” brands online, the Jim Henson Co. has made Warner Bros. Online’s AcmeCity its official Internet fansite community, a deal that may eventually lead to the production of original Muppet-based shows for newly launched Entertaindom.com, as well.
Henson will provide AcmeCity users with content — approved photos, video clips, other multimedia — to create Web pages for “Muppet Show’s” Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies and Fraggle Rock.
There are more than 8,000 unrelegated Web sites related to “Muppet Show” on Geocities, alone. AcmeCity will give Henson control over what is used on future fansites.
“Our deal with AcmeCity empowers our fan base to deepen their relationships with Henson’s characters, while enabling our company to preserve our intellectual property rights on the Web,” said Craig Allen, veep and general manager of Jim Henson Interactive. “We need to look after our content on the Internet as a business. Warner Bros. Online is in the business of protecting brands and we share the same issues as intellectual property holders.”
Other brands that have made AcmeCity their official home on the ‘Net, include Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Scooby Doo, Rosie O’Donnell, Adam Sandler, comic book icon Stan Lee and Chris O’Donnell, among others.
AcmeCity has over 750,000 subscribers and more than 2 million pages of content, policed by Warner Bros. and Time Warner.
Participants share in advertising revenues and receive a cut of the retail revenues. Nearly a quarter of every dollar collected from the sites goes toward the infrastructure and personnel that protects the brands and stars.
“From the inception of AcmeCity, our goal was to create an environment where the appeal of mainstream personalities and brands could be extended to the Web in communities that were family- and advertiser-friendly,” said Jim Moloshok, prexy of Warner Bros. Online. “The time is long overdue when the Hollywood community and stars should fight back over the pillaging of their likenesses online.”
As for Entertaindom, Allen said, “We’re creating a new way for people to come into contact with our characters. We really want to open the door for collaboration with our audience, to create a digital Muppet studio.”
He added that the Jim Henson Co. is also looking at crossing over the characters into vidgames and other digital properties in the coming year.