Rick Haskins: Parsing Viewers' Taste for the New Online
Moving drama-heavy CW’s digital offerings toward animation, game shows, comedy and more
By Andrea Morabito -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/20/2012 12:01:00 AMB&C's 2012 Digital All-Stars
“Digital programming is going to explode, and I think it’s really fun to get on the ground level at these types of things and be a pioneer in this space,” he says.
At The CW’s upfront presentation in May, the network unveiled Haskins’ first brainchild following his promotion: CWD, a new studio that will create original shortform content exclusively for its digital platforms.
The content will focus on animation, game shows and comedy— genres not currently represented on The CW’s drama-heavy schedule, but ones that could give the small network programs with repeatability and syndication potential crucial for its longterm viability.
“We want to understand what the appetite is for this type of product from this audience,” Haskins says.
CWD’s first two series will be the animated Gallery Girl and Stupid Hype—starring Hart of Dixie’s Wilson Bethel in a parody of a white rapper in the 1990s, which will roll within Dixie episodes on CWTV.com and its app starting in November.
The studio is meant to serve as both an incubator for future programming and a platform for alternative content, with the caveat that what works digitally doesn’t necessarily work on broadcast (with its more rigid time constraints), as well as the smaller budgets afforded for digital development.
“To me, that’s going to be our biggest challenge: How can we experiment in digital and know whether or not it’s going to work on broadcast?” Haskins asks.
For Haskins, the challenge includes figuring out how to make social media tools into programming components. He will try it with the CWD series Fandemonium, where the network’s 50 million Facebook fans will compete for the title of #1 CW fan using Pinterest, GetGlue and Klout. It’s also about experimenting with business models, and CWD already has multiple brands signed on for partnerships with its digital series.
“This is still a giant lab to understand how I can marry digital with social with programming,” Haskins says. “Because that’s what’s happening now with the audience.”
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