May we present: TheWB.com
Today, TheWB.com enters live beta at 11 am PT — right about now, in fact. I’ve been given a sneak peek, so here’s what to expect and why you should go check it out for your very own self.
First impression: They got the layout right, which is important. Like Hulu.com, the entry portal is clear, simple and appealing. It makes you want to hang around for a while, and that’s the point.
Second impression: There’s a lot to see and do here. Crap. I haven’t got all day. But maybe you do, so go spend some time on the site and let me know what you think.
Old friends: Literally. If you haven’t had your fill of the nineties’ most fabulous sixsome – Rachel, Monica, Joey, Chandler, Ross and Phoebe — then you can go here to watch a few of TheWB.com’s staff favorites.
The site also is streaming first episodes of many favorites, including Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, One Tree Hill, Smallville, The O.C., and Veronica Mars. One show I’m excited to see on here is Joss Whedon’s much-loved and much-missed Firefly, which had a short run on Fox and Friday nights before it died a premature death and then finished out its life as the movie, Serenity (although the hardcore Joss fans are praying for a sequel, so we’ll see, especially if Dollhouse doesn’t pan out).
Something that intrigues me and to perhaps a handful of copyright attorneys is that many of these shows air elsewhere. Gilmore Girls airs on ABC Family, and episodes stream on the network’s Web site at abcfamily.go.com. (Beware if you go here, because the Move Media player crashed my Firefox. I’m sure it’s fine with Explorer, which I didn’t try.) And many episodes of Buffy stream on AOL TV. It’s interesting to me that content providers have loosened up enough in the past five years that sites like TheWB.com and AOL TV and Hulu.com can coexist and stream the same shows, although I really wonder what that negotiating process was behind the scenes.
New friends: What’s probably more compelling than repeats of old (but of course beloved) shows is the site’s original content. So far, that includes catty teen drama Sorority Forever (only a trailer is up so far); Dangerous (pilot run time, 45 minutes, so I couldn’t take the time to check it out); surfing drama Blue Water High (NOT a failed reality show that aired on The WB but a hit show in Australia, PR person informs me); Jeanine Tate, a talk show that takes place in a soccer mom’s minivan (no, I don’t want to watch that either — no, wait, I do, says PR person. Hilarity apparently ensues in this minivan. So I’ll take that on advisement) and a few others.
I’m sure the folks behind TheWB.com hope that some of these take off in such a way that they can become big hits on a broadcast or cable network, which still are much more lucrative places to live. TMZ, anyone?
All yours: The site also offers many roads to personalization. You can add a Facebook app to your page (of course I did that, although my FB obsession is dying down now possibly to be replaced with a WB.com obsession. Friend count: 133. I’m starting to look at this as a competitive sport.)
The video search feature allows you to cue up specific scenes from selected shows. Search for every mention of Marcel the monkey in Friends or every scene that has Janice braying “OH MY GOD.” I’m not sure why you want to do that, but go ahead, give it a try.
You also can create your own playlists and make your own mash-ups. I’m too artistically and patience challenged to do this, but the tool looks really cool and easy to use – there are lots of ways to make your own videos, add effects, transitions and music. Way to encourage aspiring filmmakers and potentially hire them!
Finally, there’s tons of games, blogs, photos, etc. It’s just one more joyous way to spend tons of time on the Internet, thereby ignoring friends, family, pets, exercise, chores, personal grooming, and so forth. Enjoy.
Oh, and this goes without saying: Those without broadband need not apply.