Warner Bros. is the latest Hollywood studio to make the move into the OTT space in a bid to stay current with a customer base whose video consumption habits increasingly tip from traditional screens to those online, providing content on demand.
Warner Bros. Digital Networks, unveiled earlier this week, has the mandate to accelerate the company’s owned OTT properties, including the newly acquired K-drama streaming platform DramaFever and Warner Archive Instant, an SVOD service offering classic Warner Bros. titles.
It will also assume active management of the company’s investments in the gamer-focused digital media co and MCN Machinima; in Uninterrupted, the partnership with LeBron James and Maverick Carter; and in Ellen Digital Ventures, a partnership with Ellen DeGeneres.
On a broader level, it will work with Time Warner divisions Turner and HBO as part of Time Warner’s overall strategy to reach audiences through currently owned OTT services as well as those to be launched in the future.
The new division will be led by Craig Hunegs (pictured), who will serve as president, in addition to his responsibilities as head of business and strategy for the company’s television group. In both positions, Hunegs reports directly to Kevin Tsujihara, chair and CEO, Warner Bros.
“In today’s on-demand world, OTT gives us a really effective means to directly provide consumers the programming they want,” said Tsujihara in a statement. “By forming Warner Bros. Digital Networks, we’ll be able to operate more nimbly as we continue to develop and deliver on our digital strategy which will complement our industry-leading distribution business.”
“Warner Bros. has a tremendous opportunity to have a more direct relationship with our audiences. We’re building a great team and we’re off to a strong start developing new streaming services,” added Hunegs, who noted the studio will have “more to announce” in the coming months.
The move comes as media cos of all stripes — from TV and movie studios to traditionally print-focused brands — try to reach audiences in the digital ecosystem. That trend is not likely to slow down any time soon. A recent study by The Diffusion Group found that, within the next four years, consumption of OTT programming is expected to double — and ad spend on that programming is projected to reach $40 billion.