TNT Brings TV Drama Online

Time Warner’s TNT cable network is launching an ad-supported online video initiative to showcase its library of drama series, original movies, and TV tie-ins.

“The network wants to be able to bring our brands to anyone, at any time, in any place. From an ad sales perspective, we want to be able to provide that same access to our advertisers as we give consumers,” Chris Pizzurro, VP of new media and digital ad sales for Turner Entertainment, told ClickZ. “DramaVision is one piece of an overall strategy to help advertisers get the right message on the right platform.”

DramaVision will launch next week on the site with an ad-free streaming of TNT’s six-part Into the West miniseries. The 12-hour, Steven Spielberg-produced historical drama aired last summer and is up for 16 Emmy awards this month.

TNT is leaving out the ads at launch to “come out with a splash,” Pizzurro said, much the way it has launched linear TV shows like The Closer or Saved with limited commercials during the series premiere. For DramaVision, the plan is to keep it ad-free for a short time, and then phase in pre-roll and mid-roll video ads. Display ads on the Flash-based player may be added later, if there is enough demand, he said.

Some programs will require the original sponsors stay attached to a show when it moves to broadband, while others will get new ads sold specifically for broadband distribution. Turner acquired the half of Court TV that it didn’t previously own from Liberty Media in May, which brought on board an online ad sales team that will now handle ad sales for all Turner Entertainment digital properties, Pizzurro said.

Future broadband content on DramaVision will include selections from TNT’s 18-year history of original films. Content will be offered in 10 genre-specific channels, including Westerns, historical dramas, and literary dramas.

TNT will also develop companion programs for its on-air shows, including I Love Law & Order, a show profiling Law & Order fans, and Ripped from the Headlines, a series of short films developed with Court TV which will follow real-life cases from the crime through the court proceedings. TNT will also create events-based shows surrounding its on-air awards shows, like the Screen Actors Guild Awards and Black Movie Awards.

Due to licensing and rights issues, DramaVision will not immediately offer TNT’s popular original TV series, such as The Closer and Saved, or the Law & Order episodes it licenses for TV broadcast, Pizzurro said. Turner will continue to negotiate rights for its current linear TV programs, and is making sure it has digital rights to all new shows going forward, he said.

TNT is Turner’s outlet for dramas, where sister station TBS focuses on comedy. TBS currently has video content on its site, but Turner is in the process of building an ad-supported, TBS-branded broadband video initiative to bring the content to the front and make it monetizable, Pizzurro said. Some TNT and TBS content will also be made available through Time Warner sister property AOL Video.

Turner is a bit late to the online video party, with broadband initiatives having been rolled out by several cable and network TV players over the past year. ABC unveiled its plans to stream its hit shows online in April, while CBS launched its Innertube network and NBC unveiled its TV 360 initiative in May.

Viacom debuted broadband channels last year for MTV and Comedy Central. Time Warner siblings AOL and Warner Bros. teamed up for the In2TV network of classic Warner Bros. shows.

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