×

CW Sinks Teeth Into Xbox With ‘Vampire Diaries’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Network will provide full-length episodes with next-day access, SmartGlass integration

Hit primetime series “The Vampire Diaries” will tee off an expanded presence for the CW on Xbox Live via a new app for the broadcaster on the Microsoft-owned gaming console.

The CW app launched Tuesday with full-length episodes of all CW programming that are available just 24 hours after their primetime berth–a first on Xbox without requiring subscribers provide proof of being pay-TV subscribers via password authentication.

“That’s a unique proposition for us in terms of app business models,” said Kathy Styponias, GM of media and entertainment group at Microsoft.

In addition, Microsoft’s second-screen software SmartGlass will integrate with the app to provide synchronized companion content to Thursday’s episode of “Diaries,” which will be a backdoor pilot for a spinoff titled “The Originals.” Only viewers watching the episode via CW’s Xbox app will be able to access extras that explore the series’ world from character biographies to a map of its New Orleans setting.

“We think it’s a great experience for a ‘Vampire Diaries’ fan and that you will see other SmartGlass experiences for more of our shows, like ‘Arrow,'” said Rick Haskins, exec veep of marketing and digital programs at CW.

The pact continues net’s aggressive bid to connect with younger viewers who may be more inclined to watch its programming on digital platforms than over the air, where the CW has struggled in the Nielsen ratings.

The CW app is already active on other platforms including iOs, Android and Windows 8. But with Xbox, the app will make its debut in the living room, where the console is the most highly penetrated offering among the many non-cable set-top boxes vying to be the go-to IP-delivered device.

For Microsoft, providing an exclusive experience surrounding TV content builds up the value of Xbox, which has become just as much a video distribution point as it is a gaming platform. There’s 116 apps delivering video on Xbox Live and thousands of programs that have used SmartGlass, which has done some series-specific content including HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

The CW is not the first broadcaster to get its own app on Xbox Live. Fox made full-length episodes available in its own Xbox app beginning last September, but access requires authentication from participating pay-TV providers Dish and Verizon Fios.

In addition to next-day access to CW series, the app will also make accessible the four most recent episodes.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Blow the Man Down Amazon Studios

    How Amazon's 'Blow the Man Down' Filmmakers Captured an Intricate Mood

    Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy spent eight years working on the script for their feature film debut, Amazon’s “Blow the Man Down,” about a pair of sisters who go deep into the underbelly of their New England hometown to cover up a crime. But the filmmakers’ relationship dates back further than that — to [...]

  • Thanks a Million Quibi

    Jeffrey Katzenberg's Quibi Is Ready to Launch, but Will Viewers Bite?

    Quibi has spent more than $1 billion so far gearing up for what founder Jeffrey Katzenberg touts as a category-defining pay-TV service of the future, uniquely built for smartphones. It’s not clear when, or even whether, the startup will recoup that. In the months leading up to Quibi’s still-planned April 6 debut, industry insiders privately [...]

  • Comedians Live Streaming Self Quarantine

    How Comedians Are Adapting to Entertain Fans While Self-Isolating

    On March 11, comedian Jim Gaffigan was in Bogotá, Colombia, in the midst of his worldwide Pale Tourist tour when he received a call from his manager that Argentina was closing its borders in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and his upcoming show there was canceled. He had a choice: fly to São Paulo, Brazil, for [...]

  • Quibi

    Quibi Target of Injunction Request Seeking to Block Its Turnstyle Mobile Tech

    Five days before Quibi’s scheduled April 6 launch, the Jeffrey Katzenberg-founded mobile-video venture has been hit with another legal action — demanding that Quibi be forced to stop using technology it allegedly stole from an interactive-video company. The motion seeking a preliminary injunction against Quibi comes from New York-based Eko, which last month sued Quibi [...]

  • Netflix-Kids-Educational-Shows

    The 15 Best Netflix Educational Shows for Kids

    With schools closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, millions of children are stranded at home — and most parents working from home say they find it tough to manage the daily juggle. How to keep the kids occupied in a way that isn’t totally mindless? Here are 15 of the most popular shows available on [...]

  • Coronavirus Work From Home Placeholder

    Are Virtual Markets Working for Distributors and Buyers Navigating Coronavirus?

    When the film and TV industry emerges from self-isolation to a forever altered landscape, one silver lining will be the online savvy newly gained by traditionally digitally-shy businesses, some of whom have reacted with lightning speed to devise virtual showcases. A drive towards virtual events initially manifested in early March across disrupted festivals such as [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content