AOL Offers Shows from Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Richie, More
Only 750 people fit in the room where AOL held its 2013 NewFront presentation this afternoon. While that might sound like a lot, Tim Armstrong, the company's CEO and chairman, revealed that 2,000 had RSVP'd, and that hundreds had been sent to a bar across the street that had been rented out for the occasion, where they watched the event on monitors (and presumably drank from an open bar).
Only two years into newfront week, the events are already feeling far too popular. NewFronts are the online world's answer to television upfronts, letting content creators present upcoming series to advertisers. AOL's event was one of the giants of the week.
AOL had almost too much to offer for one newfront. The company's exec's presented attractive new offerings for all of AOL's three video areas: branded series, AOL On, and HuffPost Live.
Star-power ramps up the excitement at most newfronts. AOL had plenty of stars to flaunt. Actress Sarah Jessica Parker started things off by talking about her series City.Ballet, which looks at the lives of dancers in the New York City Ballet. Baltimore Raven Ray Rice hyped the show My Ink, where sports stars explain the meaning of their tattoos, while reality show star Nicole Richie talked about her show #CandidlyNicole, which is about her life and thoughts.
“I’m uniquely and candidly me, and proud of it," Richie said.
One of the most compelling of AOL's upcoming series looks to be Fatherhood, created by actor Hank Azaria. While the show started as a bachelor's exploration of what it means to be a father, the cameras captured some unexpected drama: Azaria's girlfriend learned she was pregnant, and their child was born 10 weeks premature. Filmed documentary-style, the series looks especially touching.
Others on hand included celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito, iJustine star Justine Ezarik, designer Jonathan Adler, and NASCAR driver Dylan Kwasniewski.
The talk wasn't only about branded series, though. Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, Roy Sekoff, HuffPost Live president and co-creator, and AXS TV chairman Mark Cuban talked about how AXS TV will soon carry HuffPost Live, a story that broke in the newspapers a few days ago. While they didn't offer details, other stories indicate that AXS TV will carry HuffPost Live for six hours a day starting May 13.
“By the time you’ve watched it on YouTube, you’ve already missed it," Cuban said.
Joined by advertising execs, Armstrong also announced a partnership with FreeWheel and Mediaocean that will let advertisers use their existing media buying workflows to buy time at scale on AOL properties.
While many are trying to create the future of streaming media, few are attacking with the resources or comprehensiveness of AOL. The company's newfront is a chance to see where AOL thinks the industry is heading, and a capacity crowd wants to get the answers first.
With the Spot On ad format, viewers can take quizzes, read trivia, shop online, and then jump back to the video.
The Olympics, Hurricane Sandy, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian define the year in online video.
AOL is climbing back on top, and quality online video (some of it created by Heidi Klum and Mark Burnett) is helping get it there.