Warner Bros: We'll Distribute Our Own Shows, Online

Time Warner’s (TWX) Warner Bros. TV production arm is launching two ad-supported TV portals–TheWB.com and WBKids.com–in an expensive bid to distribute its own content to consumers.

TheWB.com, set to launch in beta next week, will get shows from the now-defunct WB TV network, like “Smallville,” “Gilmore Girls”, shows from the Warner library like “Friends,” and a slate of new series from big-name TV and film directors such as McG (“Terminator 4,” “The O.C.”), Josh Schwartz (“Gossip Girl”), and Big Fantastic, producer (with Michael Eisner’s Vuguru) of the Web series “Prom Queen.”

KidsWB.com gets episodes of “Bugs Bunny,” “Scooby Doo,” the animated “Batman” series and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Warner Bros. says it already has advertising deals for both sites in place with Mattel Inc., McDonald’s Corp. and Johnson & Johnson.

The sites haven’t yet launched but given the amount of content involved, it raises a few competitive questions.

  • Why compete against the other distributors of your content such as Hulu, network Web sites, and even corporate siblings such as TBS (which has TV rights to “Friends”)?
  • More pointedly, why compete with any distributor at all? There are no shortage of Web sites eager to distribute TV shows: What possible advantage can you have by building yet another one?

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