Warner Bros. tests emerging tech in new facility

Studio builds new media center to test how consumers respond to Warner content on Web sites, handheld devices, and VOD services.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Group is tired of guessing about how the studio's content will appear on the Web or handheld devices.

That's why the company has built a new media center designed to test how consumers respond to Web sites, consumer electronics, and video-on-demand services that feature the studio's movies and TV shows.

The company behind such films and TV shows as I am Legend, Michael Clayton, and ER, has outfitted the media center with Xboxes, PSPs, iPods, Macbooks, varying brands of PCs, DirectTV, and a plethora of cable subscription services.

The company will bring in everyday consumers and watch how they interact with Web sites, gadgets, or video-on-demand services that feature Warner content. With the help of eight pan-zoom cameras built into the ceiling, researchers will monitor the respondents, according to Bruce K. Rosenblum, the executive vice president in charge of the media center.

"We're not operating in a vacuum anymore because of this center," Rosenblum told CNET News.com on Thursday. "We want to get smarter and understand these technologies a bit better. Warner Bros can just assume about the deals we do. I think it's important that Warner knows the experience."

The studios know that they can't rely solely on the TV set or VHS recorder anymore. Fans are consuming films and shows on video-game consoles, music players like the iPod, and mobile phones. Rosenblum said Warner Bros. modeled its media center after one built in Las Vegas by CBS.

The differences between the two facilities are that Warner was designed specifically to test emerging technologies and is on-site.

Rosenblum decline to discuss costs of building the center. He did say that companies owned by Time Warner, the studio's parent company, are welcome to use the facility.

 

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