WB International sets TV branding

New unit will spread channels on all platforms

Warner Bros. Intl. Television Distribution is moving forward with its plan to create multiple platforms for studio-only programming around the world by forming a branded services unit.

Unit will use the latest technological resources to help materialize the recently announced “Warner TV”-branded channels on all media platforms, including digital cable, satellite and the Web.

Programming, which will include a mix of Warner Bros. television and film product, will be viewed on a video-on-demand basis rather than have each respective network schedule its own lineup.

Overseeing the newly created unit will be 14-year Warner Bros. vet Malcolm Dudley-Smith, named exec VP, business management, branded services. Dudley-Smith will manage all aspects of the group, which includes designing rollout strategies in territories around the globe, overseeing affiliation and carriage deals with platforms and working with the studio’s worldwide licensing arm.

“Over the past several years, Malcolm has been instrumental in helping create (our) strategic vision,” said Jeffrey Schlesinger, the studio’s global TV prexy. “We feel his experience in our traditional licensing business, combined with his ability to identify new-media trends and finding ways to monetize them, makes him an ideal choice for this new position.”

Rollout of WB-only programming on a video-on-demand basis around the world creates a new revenue stream for the studio and comes at a time when many global channels have newfound capacity to take on additional VOD services.

“It’s a brand-new revenue stream,” Schlesinger said when the venture was first announced. “The costs here are much lower than creating a linear channel. You don’t have as much on-air promotion that you have to do. You don’t have as much scheduling or advertising sales infrastructure. You don’t have to worry about commercial insertion.”

As part of the initiative, Warner Bros. Intl. Television Distribution is launching a studio-branded subscription service in Germany via ProSiebenSat1’s video-on-demand portal Maxdome. Film and TV series available at the outset include “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “The Matrix Revolutions,” “ER,” “Friends” and “Without a Trace.”

India is also getting the WB treatment, with studio programming available via Turner Entertainment Networks Asia. Subject to regulatory approvals, the new channel will launch later this year.

Prior to his new position, Dudley-Smith was WBITD’s exec VP of sales and business development for Canada, Latin America and Asia.

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