Decision on Netco's future to be made in coming weeks

Netcaster Entertaindom.com could be the next victim on the chopping block as the newly merged Time Warner and America Online continue to trim costs. But Warner Bros. Online stresses it’s still committed to original programming for the Web.

Warner Bros. confirmed Thursday that the studio is discussing whether to shutter the site, but stressed that no decision has yet to be made on whether to keep operating the Entertaindom brand as a separate entity from Warner Bros. Online.

The decision is likely to be made in the coming weeks, with layoffs likely should Entertaindom close. Warner Bros. Online employs around 200 staffers.

Entertainment content now featured on Entertaindom would likely shift over to Warner Bros. Online, including short films from AtomFilms.com and Webtoons from Mondo Media, among others.

“The company will be reviewing its corporate organization, as well as our divisions, for opportunities to enhance efficiencies,” said a Warner Bros. spokesman.

Warner Bros. Online took over Entertaindom.com last April after the sudden departure of toppers Jim Moloshok and Jim Banister (Daily Variety, April 25). Shortly afterward, both Entertaindom and Warner Bros. Online were brought under the supervision of executive veep of new media Kevin Tsujihara, with both arms sharing overhead costs, including the same management and advertising teams.

Rumors of Entertaindom’s eventual closure or consolidation with Warner Bros.’ studio Web site have been circulating since Moloshok and Banister’s departure.

While many considered the two sites to be rivals, Entertaindom focused on edgy animated and live action content from third party content creators, while Warner Bros. Online centered solely around the studio’s branded properties, such as Looney Tunes, TV shows and film properties.

Continuing to run both brands would be costly for the studio, requiring both extensive production and marketing budgets to guarantee their success. With Time Warner/AOL looking to trim $1 billion dollars, the likelihood of both dot-coms surviving is slim; the Warner Bros.-branded site with its 70 year history edges out the struggling Entertaindom with a tainted past.

Entertaindom staffers are currently headed to the Sundance Film Festival where the dot-com will host several concerts featuring high-profile music acts, including Radiohead, Paul Okenfeld, Everclear, Semisonic and the Dandy Warhols.

Whatever happens to Entertaindom, Warner Bros. Online is loudly sending a message that it is still interested in original programming for the Web.

In fact, the division has spent the last few months actively inking rich deals with several online production companies to acquire a slate of Webtoons, games and live action shorts to bow on the site in the coming months.

However, as of Thursday, some companies that inked similar content deals with Entertaindom, including Heavy.com and Pulse Entertainment, were still wondering how a decision to shutter Entertaindom would affect them and whether their content would move over to Warner Bros. Online’s site.

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