Super broadband plan for Turner
EmptyA company known for minting brands that make a mint in cable, including CNN and TNT, is angling to do the same in broadband and beyond.
Time Warner-owned Turner Broadcasting is scheduled to announce today its intent to launch a new multiplatform brand in January boasting original shortform videos laced with edgy humor from professional comics and ambitious amateurs alike.
Dubbed Super Deluxe, the free, advertiser-supported venture will target men 18-34 with a mix of live-action and animated material that won't skimp on profanity and toilet humor. "It's like cable TV without the rules," Turner Entertainment Group president Mark Lazarus said.
Super Deluxe will be Turner's first programming venture to launch without the customary linear cable channel format that such well-known brands as TBS and Cartoon Network occupied.
Super Deluxe's online incarnation will be equipped with community tools that enable users to establish profiles, post videos and interact. The Web site collapses the traditional distinction -- and distance -- between performers and consumers, putting user-generated content and original output from notable comedians side by side.
Lazarus declined to specify individual talent involved, citing negotiations still under way. Artists on the site will have their own customized areas to promote exclusive videos and upcoming appearances.
A third party also will get a seat at the Super Deluxe table: advertisers. Marketers will be heavily integrated into the site with pages of their own alongside users and performers. Although Turner declined to specify which advertisers have signed up for Super Deluxe, they are expected to deliver entertaining videos in addition to pre-roll and post-roll spots.
In addition, Turner is in negotiations with distributors all over the digital-media landscape that would put Super Deluxe sans social networking functions on cable VOD, mobile phones, portable media players and video game consoles.
The venture reflects the growing interest of established content outlets in alternative platforms that are siphoning an increasing flow of advertising dollars from traditional media, particularly online, where younger viewers are flocking to everywhere from indie upstarts like CollegeHumor.com to Comedy Central's broadband home, MotherLode.
"Everyone is trying different things out there," Lazarus said. "There is no established pattern in the industry for making this happen."
Overseeing Super Deluxe is Drew Reifenberger, the new brand's senior vp and general manager. Reifenberger, who reports to Lazarus, was executive vp Turner Sports Interactive.
Reifenberger has spearheaded outreach to Hollywood's creative community in search of content from them. Although budgets for multiminute clips aren't expected to be as generous as what they could get from longform programming, Turner is expecting the creative freedom of Super Deluxe to attract significant interest.
"This is professional, high-quality content, not kids dropping Mentos in a bottle," said John Buzzell, vp product development at Super Deluxe, and leader of the team that created the concept for the brand.
Turner also is making deals with relatively unknown content creators and is expected to sign other amateurs who establish a presence on Super Deluxe to development deals. In addition, Turner is open to functioning as a studio for select site members, helping with financing and other arrangements.
Between comedy pros and newbies, Lazarus estimates Turner will have signed at least 100 deals by its launch that will seed the site with ample content.
Super Deluxe users also will be allowed to embed videos from the site elsewhere on the Web, as is typical behavior from subscribers to MySpace and YouTube.
Turner will adopt a more stringent set of standards for admittance of video than YouTube, charging a team to constantly monitor uploads for copyright-infringing or offensive material.
Videos also will be bookended by short pre-roll and post-roll ads, in addition to display ads. Marketers also will get their own branded pages where they can post video like anyone else on the site.
Turner will hire a separate advertising sales team to sell space on Super Deluxe, though current Turner ad sales execs also will be able to offer placements on the site in combination with existing Turner brands.
Super Deluxe joins a growing broadband portfolio at Turner including CNN Pipeline, an extension of the 24-hour news network and GameTap, a gaming venue.
Lazarus would not divulge how much Turner is spending on Super Deluxe, but described the outlay as a fraction of what it would cost to launch a linear cable channel.
Super Deluxe also could serve as a hothouse for programming concepts that move to other Turner networks, most likely Cartoon Network's Adult Swim or TBS. While Turner is not averse to extending its online brands, as it did with TNT and its online spinoff, DramaVision, the company chose to launch a separate brand. An online extension for TBS is expected to be introduced next year.
Lazarus said there will be some informal cooperation between Super Deluxe and Adult Swim, which share a similar demographic focus as well as the same headquarters in Atlanta. The networks may cross-pollinate some content.
"While Adult Swim has some mature content, this will be more mature in some ways," Lazarus said of Super Deluxe.