CW Inks Two Digital Deals

New youth-targeting network The CW is hoping to tap the popularity of young-skewing site MySpace by taking over the online portal's home page for a day and creating its own network-branded MySpace mini-site.

As part of a broader promotional arrangement, The CW has bought out all the advertising space and designed a custom-branded background that will be displayed on the MySpace main site all day on Sept. 20, the day the network debuts. A representative for the network declined to say how much the stunt is costing the network.

Also as part of the deal, The CW is creating a network community page on MySpace bearing its "Free to Be" branding. The CW Hub, which launches Sept. 5, will include a video player that lets visitors view clips of the network's series and behind-the-scenes extras, as well as profiles of the series and actors, discussion forums and AIM icons.

The CW, a network created by merging the best shows of the soon-to-be shuttered WB and UPN channels, is aiming to target viewers 18-34 and has unleashed a multi-million dollar marketing campaign this summer to make viewers aware of its launch. The MySpace partnership will also include a band competition where viewers can submit original songs to win a guest performance on CW's Supernatural.

In another deal, the CW has become the latest network to preview its fall shows online. The network will stream the premiere episodes of Everybody Hates Chris, Veronica Mars and Runaway on Microsoft's MSN for free the week before each show premieres.

Focusing on the major undertaking of launching an entirely new network on TV, The CW has announced far fewer online extensions of its shows than have the other broadcast networks. ABC and CBS will stream free episodes of several entire series this season on their own broadband networks, while Fox will stream shows on its O&Os' Websites. NBC has done promotional deals to distribute its pilots through Netflix and others and also has a broadband site.

Streaming pilots as The CW is doing is an online distribution option that has so far satisfied both networks and studios - it creates buzz around the new shows without exposing more than one episode online. Studios have so far been skittish that doing so would damage their shows' backend value in DVD and syndication sales.

The three CW shows that will stream on MSN are produced by three different studios - Chris, which will stream on MSN beginning Sept. 24, is from Paramount, new drama Runaway, which will stream beginning Sept. 25, from Sony and Veronica, which will stream beginning Sept. 26, from Warner Bros.