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NBC Digital Creating New Wave Of Web/TV Programming

NBC Universal
NBC Universal

NBC Universal Digital Studio relaunched on Thursday and now it's focusing on branded made-for-the-web content. It already has projects and sponsors in the works.

The digital studio is teaming up with a division of ad giant Omnicom, OMG Digital, to create episodic content around certain products for distribution online.

And today, the company announced two new web-based series, "Gemini Division", a science fiction series starring Rosario Dawson, that Intel , Cisco Systems , and Microsoft are involved with developing. "Woke Up Dead," is a comedy about a college-aged zombie. I haven't heard which companies are on board there.

The company has said that thanks to the product integration deals, the series are profitable from the start. Expect the segments to be distributed to NBC.com, as well as Hulu.com,which NBC Universal co-owns with News Corp , as well as to mobile content providers.

NBC is taking a fresh approach to the series of 50 three-minute episodes. It'll actually preview the first several episodes of the series on TV, using television to drive people online--the opposite of how these things usually work.

Another interesting angle: In acquiring the digital rights to these shows, NBC has also snagged the right to develop them into TV series if it works. Now taking web series "Quarterlife" to NBC's primetime didn't work at all as it bombed on TV. But this wouldn't be a direct transplant, it would be a totally new show, based on the webisodes.

Nearly all the media companies seem to be investing in original digital programming. ABC's Stage 9 Digital Media, its in-house digital media studio released an original series, "Squeegees" to ABC.comand YouTube in February. CBC TV Distribution just last week unveiled its branded-integration studio, for adding sponsorships and brand presence to game shows and entertainment news.

What distinguishes NBC's studio is its partnership with an outside media agency--OMG digital. Now we'll see if sponsorships are the ticket to online content profitability.

Disclosure: CNBC is owned by NBC Universal, which is a unit of GE .

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.