AOL Introduces the AOL On Network at NewFront Presentation
Video has been at the forefront of AOL's reinvention, but until today there's been no one place to view all of the company's original online content. That changed as AOL introduced the AOL On Network, a curated hub offering access to a library of over 300,000 original and licensed videos.
Curation is key to the AOL On strategy, says Ran Harnevo, senior vice president of AOL Video. The homepages for Hulu and YouTube are full of titles selected by algorithm, he says. Not so with AOL On, where all featured content is hand-selected. The site will even offer celebrity playlists with videos chosen by that celebrity.
"We really think consumers want content to be programmed, and they want content to be curated, and they want to watch it on every screen and on every site," says Harnevo.
With the On Network, AOL is putting all of it's content behind one brand. For Harnevo, the hub is more than a way to surface content, it's a way to blur the lines between TV and online video. Viewers want programming they can trust, he explains, as with the early days of television. They want to trust that a network will select content that appeals to them. That kind of programming has disappeared online, he believes, where a democratization of content has led to confusion among viewers, marketers, and advertisers.
"We're taking a very thought leadership kind of approach of how do you marry TV and online video? I think the brand really sits in the middle and takes the good parts from both," Harnevo says.
AOL On will offer 14 channels at launch, including News, Video Games, Entertainment, Style, and Tech. Harnevo says AOL will add a few more channels over time. There's no Humor channel at launch, for example, but Harnevo says that AOL is now in talks with humor video producers and that a Humor channel is forthcoming. AOL currently has video licensing deals with partners such as Hachette, G4, and Scripps Network.
Advertisers will be able to buy inventory on one of the niche channels, or buy a preferred viewer demographic.
Curated channel content won't only live at AOL On. AOL will syndicate that selected content to other appropriate properties. Entertainment content, for example, could be syndicated to HuffPost TV, MovieFone, AOL's homepage, Celebrity Daily, publishing partners, connected TVs, and apps.
"It's all about curation, programming, experiences -- bringing back some good old TV flavor to the Web. Then when you talk about AOL and entertainment, you have the entertainment channel on the video hub, but you also have the entertainment channel being syndicated to all of our properties," adds Harnevo.
When the HuffPost Streaming Network launches this summer, its live content will be added to AOL On as video-on-demand files. "All their content is going to come here. It's going to get VOD'd and come here. They're going to have a channel," says Harnevo.
While much of the conversation around the inaugural NewFront season will be about bold-name celebrities, Harnevo believes AOL will have one of the only product announcements.
"We need to get closer to TV from a content perspective, but also from a product perspective," says Harnevo. "I think we're pushing the envelope from the product side, and I don't know how many product announcements you're going to have this week. If we want TV buyers to play with us big time, the product should be clear, consistent, trusted."
Along with its video hub, AOL announced seven new online programs:
- Digital Justice: A reality show on digital forensic investigators.
- Fetching: A scripted show about a woman opening a doggy daycare.
- Little Women Big Cars: A series on four busy soccer moms.
- Next Door Hero: An unscripted show looking for brave everyday heroes.
- Nina Garcia: The fashion editor helps people get their groove back.
- Tiger Beat Entertainment: A teen-centered entertainment show with a point of view.
- ur+1: Not a show, but rather a celebrity-based fantasy game spanning AOL properties.
"We're launching a new video brand, and a new video platform, and, in a way also, a new video way of thinking," says Harnevo.
Scroll down for Beet.TV's interview with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong from the event.
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