Will air Critic's Choice awards live on Jan. 9

The WB has signed a three-year deal to air the “Critics’ Choice Awards.”

Deal reps the first time the awards, determined by members of the Broadcast Film Critics Assn., have aired over a broadcast web. E! Entertainment TV held rights to the show over the past four years.

Frog will air the Critics’ Choice Awards — now in its 10th year — as a live, two-hour kudocast at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 9, preceded by an hour-long preshow special.

WB execs and BFCA members hope to build the Critics’ Choice Awards into a franchise rivaling the hugely successful Golden Globes.

Last year, the Critics’ Choice picks mirrored the eventual Oscar winners in all six major categories: best picture (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”), director (Peter Jackson), actor (Sean Penn), actress (Charlize Theron), supporting actor (Tim Robbins) and supporting actress (Renee Zellweger).

According to WB alt programming senior VP Keith Cox, that has added “a great deal of anticipation, prestige and most importantly, star power, to the show.”

What’s more, because the Critics’ Choice Awards air before Oscar ballots are due, BFCA prexy Joey Berlin said his org’s show may influence voting.

“We are the kickoff of the season, the first big, televised movie award show of the year,” Berlin said. “The choices that the members have made through the years have consistently reflected that same kind of popular taste for quality that the Academy Awards have recognized.”

Like the Golden Globes, the broadcast critics will continue to promote a loose, less formal air to their event –which means, yes, alcohol will be served.

According to Berlin, the org wound up at the WB because several of its members work at Tribune-owned WB affils — particularly KTLA’s Sam Rubin, who helped pitch the kudocast to Frog execs. Berlin declined to elaborate on what role Rubin might have in the show or preshow.

Bob Bain Prods. (“Billboard Music Awards,” “Miss America”) will oversee the telecast; noms for the Critics’ Choice Awards will be announced Dec. 15.

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