WB relaunches as online video network

Mon Apr 28, 2008 5:36pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Warner Bros. Television Group will relaunch its defunct WB network as an online video site offering original programming and reruns of shows such as "Friends" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," aimed at a new generation of viewers.

TheWB.com targets 16-to-34-year-old viewers with new shows developed by writer and producer Josh Schwartz, known for "Gossip Girl" "The O.C.," and "Terminator 4" director McG.

The launch comes as media companies struggle to attract younger viewers who spend as much time watching television as they do sending text messages on cell phones and watching online videos.

Schwartz's "Gossip Girl," for instance, has failed to generate big ratings for the CW network, formed in 2006 from the merger of the old WB and UPN networks, but has attracted a loyal following online.

The CW network, which once streamed full episodes of the show on the Internet, decided recently to pull it off the Internet in a bid to boost TV viewership for the series.

Schwartz is developing a new show for TheWB.com that "takes viewers to the front of the line and behind the soundboard of a fictional Hollywood rock club," Warner Bros said in a statement.

TheWb.com will also be distributed by Comcast Corp's video-on-demand service and its online entertainment site Fancast.com. The new site will also be available on Time Warner's AOL.