Warner Bros., Turner go live with new Boomerang SVOD service for cartoons

Boomerang offers a website as well as iOS and Android apps for its service.

Time Warner’s subsidiary Turner and Warner Bros. cartoon SVOD service, Boomerang, went live on yesterday, Variety reported.

The move is part of a broad Time Warner Inc. effort to control its own digital distribution fate rather than sell content to distributors, such as Netflix. The advertising-free Boomerang is now the only place for users to see new episodes of “Scooby-Doo,” “Looney Tunes” and “Tom & Jerry,” Variety reported.

A YouTube video uploaded yesterday also announced that the service was live and that viewers could check it out with a free trial. Users can obtain a 30-day free trial subscription of Boomerang if they sign up for an annual membership ($39.99 for the full year), or a seven-day free trial if they sign up for a monthly membership ($4.99 per month).

CEO Jeff Bewkes made a declaration in November 2015 that the company needed to more directly monetize its assets in digital platforms. Now, the two companies’ market caps are within a few billion dollars of each other – Time Warner Inc.’s market cap was at $76.6 billion on Thursday morning while Netflix’s was at $62.7 billion.

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The Boomerang brand isn't new—it was once a Turner/Nickelodeon cable channel—and this isn't the first time Warner Bros. has tried to monetize its animated assets online. In fall 1999, Time Warner went out on a limb and launched Entertaindom, an online entertainment website. It was one of the few trying to distribute online video content in a time when most people were still using 56k dial-up modems, an enterprise which failed and was shut down less than three years later.

Now, Warner Bros. is venturing into a whole different realm fully packed with OTT competition. Though Time Warner was left out of the new YouTube TV service, which launched last week, the company has increased the content budget for HBO. In February, Time Warner announced that its HBO Now subscribers had passed the 2 million mark after an especially strong fourth quarter of 2016.

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Typically disgruntled YouTube commenters went to town shredding the Boomerang series selection on Wednesday, complaining that the SVOD service doesn’t offer any episodes of the series Top Cat or Hong Kong Phooey, or enough Hanna-Barbera shows. Twitter was more approving, noting the service’s inclusion of the first season of The Life and Times of Juniper Lee. Variety reported that Boomerang will offer at least two new original series not available from any other company: “Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz” and “Wacky Races,” a new adaptation of Hanna-Barbera’s series from the 1960s.