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AOL Announces NBCU Distribution Deal and a Slate of New Shows

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One of the biggest moments from tonight's AOL NewFront presentation came at the end, when AOL president Bob Lord was joined on stage by Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal's chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships, to announce a distribution and development deal between the two companies. Under the agreement, AOL will distribute clips from NBCU properties through its online platforms, including AOL On and the AOL On mobile app. Content won't only be from network shows, but will include videos from Bravo, E, CNBC, USA, and other cable properties. The partnership will also bring AOL experts to some NBCU shows, and will involve the joint creation of live weekly programming, but those parts felt less thought out.

"The consumer appetite for great content continues to grow," Yaccarino said, citing the need to collaborate with strong cross-platform partners.

While the deal is a significant one, it felt like an odd announcement for a newfront presentation, which typically highlights new content looking for advertising support. Is it safer to offer consumers what they already know?

AOL has been dedicated to online video creation for several years now, and it's learned what works for its audience. That means empowering content for women, humorous sports shows for guys, and a little techno-futurism to round things out. #BUILTBYGIRLS: Girl U will show young women learning different disciplines in each episode, while The Thursday Sports Show With Ben Lyons, created in partnership with Derek Jeter's The Players' Tribune, will offer a humorous look at sports. AOL also talked up its recently launched sports shows 2 Point Lead and Journey to the Draft. Actors Steve Buscemi and James Franco were on hand to talk about their renewed AOL shows, Park Bench and Making a Scene. Jared Leto appeared via recorded video to promote his show Beyond the Horizon, where he'll talk with visionaries in several fields about humanity's future.

While AOL recently made a bold move into long-form content with the launch of Connected (which it reported got over 1 million views in its first week), long-form wasn't on display at this newfront. Snackable content is still king online, even if—as with the NBCUniversal partnership—another company is making it.

Steve Buscemi and the cast of Park Bench at the AOL NewFront.

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