Warner Homevid to bow Lifetime pics on DVD

Deal marks channel's first foray into home entertainment

Warner Home Video has inked an exclusive DVD distribution deal with Lifetime.

It’s the first time Lifetime has licensed its original programming for the home entertainment market.

Interestingly, the network co-owned by Hearst Corp. and Disney opted to go with Disney vid archrival Warner instead of Disney, even though Lifetime has partnered with Disney and Hearst on the new Lifetime magazine.

A spokesman for Lifetime said each choice is made on a case-by-case basis. In this case, the decision was based on Warner’s having a specific division for nontheatrical product and a huge marketing machine for home entertainment. Disney has not released Lifetime video product before.

Despite sitting on the world’s largest library of programming, which the studio is releasing at a fast pace on DVD, Warner has been aggressively increasing its acquisitions of other nontheatrical programming, including that from the BBC, NBA, NHL, NFL, National Geographic and Leap Frog.

Exclusive deal

Warner becomes the exclusive domestic distrib for all Lifetime-branded TV properties, including Lifetime original movies and select specials, series and longform titles developed or acquired by Lifetime. But the multiyear deal that is tentatively set to yield the first releases in the fourth quarter won’t necessarily bring Warner all the popular programming on the network, much of which is produced by independent companies that maintain homevideo rights.

The only titles the companies noted that would be released as part of the new branded line of Lifetime homevideo product are the Emmy-nominated movie “Homeless to Harvard,” starring Thora Birch and Kelly Lynch, and “Obsessed,” starring Jenna Elfman, San Robards and Kate Burton.

At the outset, Warner is focusing on Lifetime’s existing library of about 20 original movies and will market the line via a general marketing campaign, as well as collaborating with the femme cabler to promote content on the channel, in the new magazine and on a radio station currently under development at Lifetime.

Historically, Lifetime has introduced up to 12 original movies per year, but over the next year, it is planning a more aggressive slate of 15-19, all of which will be distributed by Warner.

“We see this as an opportunity to expand our brand strategy here at Warner, where we have looked to other franchises that have similarly strong recognition at the consumer level,” said Christine Martinez, Warner Home Video’s VP of non-theatrical franchise marketing.

“Video and DVD versions of our Lifetime Original Movies are the single most requested item from our viewers,” said Todd Unger, senior VP of brand extensions at Lifetime. “We look forward to a productive partnership with Warner Home Video.”

(Simone Kaplan is a reporter for Daily Variety sister publication DVD Exclusive.)