WB relaunches as online video network

NEW YORK Mon Apr 28, 2008 5:54pm EDT

A sign for the WB television network (L) is shown at the network's offices on the Warner Bros. studios Ranch facilities lot in Burbank, California January 24, 2006. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

A sign for the WB television network (L) is shown at the network's offices on the Warner Bros. studios Ranch facilities lot in Burbank, California January 24, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros Television Group will relaunch the WB Network as an online video site offering original programming alongside reruns of shows such as "Friends" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to court a new generation of viewers.

TheWB.com targets 16-to-34-years-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 court a new generation of viewers, who spend as much time watching television as they do sending text messages on cellphones and watching online videos.

Schwartz's "Gossip Girl," for instance, has failed to generate big ratings for the CW Network, 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 to boost TV viewership.

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.

(Reporting by Kenneth Li; Editing by Andre Grenon)

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