In another step toward retooling its traditional business, Warner Bros. Television today plans to adopt some moms.
Warner Bros. is introducing a community-oriented website, MomLogic.com. The venture is a grab for a bigger piece of the rapidly growing online advertising pie as TV loses viewers.
The site is one of several that Warner Bros. has in the works. The company is using its successful website TMZ.com as a blueprint. It parlayed the site, which revels in the foibles of celebrities, into a syndicated TV show that debuted on broadcast stations in September.
Warner Bros. has long enjoyed a lucrative business from selling shows to networks, TV stations and cable channels. It produces such shows as "Two and a Half Men," "Without a Trace," "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "Extra."
"It's a little surprising and unexpected because of their history producing scripted content," Deana Myers, a senior analyst at SNL Kagan, said of Warner. "But it is an interesting move that could work out well."
Warner Bros. sees the Internet as a potent growth area as the TV audience fragments and fewer hits are ripe for syndication. Advertisers are flocking to the Internet, where they can spend less money to reach smaller, more targeted groups of consumers.
For MomLogic, Warner Bros. has signed Unilever, the company that sells Dove soap, Knorr soup and Slimfast, as a charter sponsor. The site is designed as a topical online community for mothers, which will provide information and news nuggets such as "Halle Berry is Expecting a Boy" and "Shaq's Wife Speaks Out on Spanking."
MomLogic.com is taking on IVillage.com, the women-oriented website and online community that NBC Universal bought a year ago. NBC has historically been a big buyer of Warner shows.
IVillage brings in more than $100 million a year in ad revenue, but NBC has struggled to combine it with its existing TV businesses. NBC has had little success in launching an IVillage-inspired daytime TV talk show, which is something Warner Bros. executives said they might be able to achieve with MomLogic.
Bruce Rosenblum, president of Warner Bros. Television Group, said MomLogic was less an attack on IVillage than an attempt to tap "an underserved market." He said many Warner shows, including "Ellen," know how to appeal to women.
"This isn't a new business for us," Rosenblum said. "It's the next step in our overall digital-media strategy."
Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Warner Bros.' Telepictures, said economics were the driver. "There is definitely a recognition that daytime audiences and prime-time audiences are smaller than they used to be," she said. "The Internet is definitely pulling people away and we want to take advantage of that interest in the Internet."