According to MediaWeek, a deal is imminent for MSN.com to stream “the first episodes of several” CW prime-time shows “sometime between now and the start of the upcoming TV season.”
“Sources familiar with the negotiations say that returning series America’s Next Top Model, Everybody Hates Chris and Supernatural, along with the new drama Runaway are candidates to make their fall debuts on the Web, roughly one week prior to their various on-air premieres.”
The piece points out that last year UPN streamed the premiere of Everybody Hates Chris on Google prior to its TV broadcast. Likewise, the WB previewed Supernatural on Yahoo.
Warner Brothers and CBS Corp. announced early this year that UPN and the WB would be combined to form the CW this September.
And now, says the New York Times, the two media giants have begun a massive marketing campaign to “create an identity for CW and by extension its series, which include America’s Next Top Model, Smallville, Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, One Tree Hill, Girlfriends, WWE Friday Night Smackdown and Runaway.
“The campaign, created internally and by an agency named Troika, is estimated at more than $50 million. That includes the value of the commercial time on the network and on the local stations that will be part of CW if the time were being sold to outside advertisers. By comparison, $50 million is about what such national marketers as ETrade, Hertz and La-Z-Boy each spent last year on advertising in major media.
“The CW advertising is already running on television and radio, in print, online (cwtv.com) and on signs, transit posters and billboards.”
More from the New York Times piece, “Free to Gain Traction for About $50 Million”
“A network is like a shopping mall, and the shows are the stores,” said Jonah Disend, the chief executive at Redscout, a brand-strategy company in New York. “You just don’t go to the stores, you go to the mall.”
Branding a network is becoming increasingly important, Disend said, because of the growing ability of consumers to watch shows “in more than one place” - that is, not only on TV sets but also on the networks’ Web sites such as abc.com, fox.com and InnerTube (cbs.com/innertube); on video iPods; and on such Web sites as aol.com, tvguide.com, video.google.com, video.yahoo.com and youtube.com.
“As we’re speaking,” Disend said during a telephone interview earlier this month, “I’m downloading last night’s Project Runway on my computer.”