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CW courts digital auds with original content

Multiplatform viewing up; CWD online studio eyes short-form fare

The CW is doing its darndest across digital platforms to live up to its billing as the “first fully converged network.”

Rick Haskins, exec veep of marketing and digital programming at CW, indicated that 18% of all in-season consumption of CW series occurs on a combination of CWTV.com, Hulu Plus, which shares the next-day window with CW’s website, and the free component of Hulu, which gets episodes one week after the TV airdate.

Haskins said that since CW signed its deal with Hulu last October, the viewing that takes place on Hulu and CW is largely non-duplicated — to the point where frosh series “Hart of Dixie” did so much better on Hulu than the network’s own website that it factored into the renewal of the series, which had only lukewarm TV ratings.

CW also has a second deal with Netflix for post-season programming with Netflix, which, together with Hulu, were lucrative enough to compensate for the losses CW parent companies CBS Corp. and Time Warner have incurred.

“Those deals are gamechangers for us,” said CW prexy Mark Pedowitz. “They’ve increased our marketing footprint.”

Pedowitz also said that traffic to CWTV.com has gone up since March, when the network made the decision to curtail the 75-hour gap between a series’ TV and online windows to eight in an attempt to curb rampant piracy of its programs.

The network touted the uptake of a CW-branded app for viewing episodes on both iOs and Android mobile devices. They have generated over 1 million uploads since it was introduced in March.

To supplement its series programming online, the network is launching a digital studio, dubbed CWD, charged with creating short-form fare in comedy, animation, game shows and digital-native talent. Four series have already been teed up including a vehicle for Internet celebrity Justine Ezarik, better known as iJustine. In addition to CWTV.com, the programming will be distributed on Facebook and YouTube.

CW is far from the first TV-network digital offshoot; similar ventures have open and closed from NBC to Turner Broadcasting in recent years. In January, Fox announced the formation of an animation division that would produce for both late-night TV and digital platforms.

CWD content will be part of the cross-platform ad sales push CW continues to make across TV and online. While both carry full loads of commercials, they run different ads, though that will likely eventually change.

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