Warner Bros. forms branded services unit

Mumbai: Expanding upon its recently announced strategy to launch a number of Warner Bros.-branded, advertiser-supported and subscription video-on-demand programming (AVOD and SVOD) channels around the world, Warner Bros. International Television Distribution (WBITD) has formed a new Branded Services unit dedicated to using the latest technological developments to create these Warner TV channels on all new media platforms, including digital cable, IPTV, PC and mobile, it was announced by Warner Bros. International Television president Jeffrey R. Schlesinger.

Announced in November 2007, the Warner TV channels bring the Studio’s film and television series to viewers around the globe in a new way, creating Warner Bros.-branded entertainment destinations that will provide consumers with around-the-clock, on-demand access to top quality programming on services consisting primarily of content produced and distributed by the Studio.

The Warner TV channels build upon the successful linear Warner Channel that has been operating in Latin America for over 10 years. Warner TV recently launched in the U.K. in SVOD form on Virgin Media’s digital cable platform and on BT’s IPTV service; in Japan on the USEN Corporation’s AVOD service, GyaO; and in France on the Free IPTV platform on a SVOD basis.

To oversee the business operations of the new unit, WBITD has named 14-year company veteran Malcolm Dudley-Smith to the newly created position of Executive Vice President, Business Management, Branded Services. Dudley-Smith will now devote his efforts exclusively to managing all business aspects of the branded services group and coordinating its activities with WBITD’s traditional licensing operation.

In his new role, Dudley-Smith will lead WBITD’s team in designing the rollout strategy for additional Warner TV channels and AVOD & SVOD branded services, overseeing the affiliation/carriage deals with platforms, the media/advertiser sales for the ad-supported services, and the strategic planning for the operation. The Branded Services unit will work hand-in-hand with WBITD’s existing regional and local sales teams around the globe to design, implement and grow the Warner TV services in each of the local markets. Dudley-Smith will continue to report to Schlesinger.

As part of this initiative, WBITD will launch a Warner TV branded SVOD service in Germany with ProSiebenSat.1 Group’s maxdome, the largest German VOD portal. The agreement makes theatrical motion pictures and television series available at www.maxdome.de/ on an SVOD as well as pay-per-view/transactional (TVOD) basis in a Warner-branded zone. Titles to be featured on Warner TV at launch include movies such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Last Samurai and Matrix Revolutions, among others, as well as television series including ER, Friends, Nip/Tuck, Cold Case, Without a Trace and The O.C., among others.

Additionally, WBITD is launching an English-language, Warner Bros.-branded channel featuring theatrical motion pictures and television series in India, in a cross-company collaboration with Turner Entertainment Networks Asia (TENA). The strategic alliance between Time Warner business units Turner and Warner Bros. exemplifies the unique strengths of each of the businesses, with Warner Bros.’ rich and powerful content supported by Turner’s expertise in building branded media environments and unrivaled knowledge of India’s complex and competitive media industry. The channel will bring the best of contemporary Hollywood entertainment to television sets in India. Subject to regulatory approvals, the new channel will debut later this year.

"Over the past several years, Malcolm has been instrumental in helping create the strategic vision for our SVOD, AVOD and channel activities. In keeping with our policy of filling new positions with talented, experienced executives from inside the division or the company, I am pleased to appoint Malcolm to this new role," said Schlesinger. "We feel his experience in our traditional licensing business, combined with his ability to identify new media trends and find ways to monetize them, makes him an ideal choice for this new position."

Additional senior-level staff appointments to the branded services division – including a creative executive to oversee the branding, programming and marketing of the Warner TV services – as well as sales and marketing executives and support staff in Burbank, Calif., as well as Europe and Asia, will follow in the coming months.

Immediately prior to his new position, Dudley-Smith served as WBITD’s Executive Vice President, Sales & Business Development, for Canada, Latin America and Asia. He joined the company in 1994 as Vice President, Pay-TV and New Technology Licensing – Europe, based in London. Two years later, he was promoted to Senior Vice President, Pay-TV and Business Development, and relocated to WBITD’s Burbank, Calif. headquarters. He was promoted to Executive Vice President, Business Sales & Business Development, in 2003.

Before joining WBITD, Dudley-Smith was Vice President, Sales and Business Development, United International Pictures Pay TV, starting in 1993, where he was responsible for the sales, business development and new technology functions within the partnership of Paramount, MCA/Universal and MGM/UA. He holds a Bachelor of Economics degree from Monash University in Melbourne, and subsequently qualified as an Australian CPA.

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