Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. is going into the online entertainment business.
The nation’s biggest brewer plans to launch a Web site in February that will show original programming, including extended shows featuring characters from previous television ads.
The site — called “Bud.TV” — is aimed at consumers between the ages of 21 and 27 who routinely visit sites like MySpace.com and YouTube, said Tony Ponturo, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president of global media and sports marketing.
“The main reason that we’re doing this is that we need to connect to these new beer consumers,” Ponturo said.
The Web site will feature sports shows, standup comedy and reality shows that are set in bars and restaurants, said Jim Schumacker, who will oversee Bud.TV.
Anheuser-Busch announced partnerships with some big-name stars who plan to contribute shows, including comedian Vince Vaughn. The Web site also will receive content from actor Kevin Spacey’s TriggerStreet.com project and actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s “Project Greenlight” filmmaking contest.
Schumacker said one channel will imitate the YouTube phenomenon, letting viewers produce their own skits and advertisements featuring Anheuser-Busch products like Budweiser and Bud Light.
“We know this cannot be a passive site,” Schumacker said. To engage young consumers, it must be a “lean-in experience” that lets them vote on shows and make their own content, he said.
While the shows will be original, Anheuser-Busch won’t make them itself, Ponturo said. The company will act like an executive producer, choosing ideas to fund and buying completed shows to broadcast.
The initiative is groundbreaking for a brewer, said Benj Steinman, publisher of Beer Marketer’s Insights, a trade magazine.
“I think Anheuser-Busch has deeper pockets (than its competitors) and they can afford to be more experimental in their outlay of resources,” Steinman said. “It’s just part of the whole shift away from traditional media in advertising, which seems to be accelerating.”
Ponturo said viewers will need to register at the site and only viewers who say they are older than 21 will be allowed to view it.