New York — In an attempt to compete with its arch rival Google, AOL, while offering a wide variety of original programming on one of the largest–and fastest–growing online video platforms, over the weekend announced that it will launch 15 new original web video series produced by or starring celebrities including Jennifer Lopez and Heidi Klum.
Delivering programs such as “You’ve Got”, a one-minute daily serial on AOL.com featuring celebrities from President Barack Obama to Kevin Bacon to Paula Abdul, AOL has a established a track record of developing successful video franchises across its owned-and-operated properties.
The serials has amassed 100 million video views, ever since it was introduced in November 2010. Growing 48 percent over the prior month and 208 percent year over year, the success of AOL’s video franchises includes AOL Music’s recently relaunched music series Sessions, which attracted 3 million streams in August 2011.
“We are pleased to unleash a slate of programming that shows our innovative approach to video,” said Ran Harnevo, Senior Vice President of AOL Video. “It provides one of the best platforms on the Web to connect advertisers with premium content at scale. We have built a video ecosystem supported by our data and insights into what excites viewers, combined with a deep understanding of what they share and discuss online. Our focus is on producing programs that consumers want.”
In addition to the latest release, new original programming on AOL will be presented by big companies like Michael Eisner’s Vuguru and Warner Bros. One could-be-big show on the list is AIM High, an action serial starring Twilight’s Jackson Rathbone, about a high schooler who is also a secret government agent. Another is Jennifer Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions and Believe Entertainment Group’s Tiger Beat Entertainment, which is based on the teen idol magazine and will target the same audience with news and lifestyle features.
Touting around 43.9 million unique viewers and 403.6 million U.S. streams per month, AOL Video is one of the top-10 video destinations on the Web. From content creation and distribution to monetization, the new slate underlines AOL Video’s comprehensive video offering.
Moreover, AOL plans to release the remaining episodes over the next several months, though few of the episodes are currently live now. Many of the programs are produced in-house by the AOL Studios team in AOL’s state-of-the-art HD studios in Los Angeles and New York, the company stated in a press release.
Recently, the company made alliance with RealNetworks where AOL UK will provide its content to users of RealNetworks flagship Media Player RealPlayer in the UK Market. The deal has come as a result of RealNetworks taking the decision to partner with the world’s leading content owners to enrich the RealPlayer experience with a broader array of high quality content. Users will have access to the latest news, entertainment and lifestyle content from AOL UK’s network of websites.
In another development, AOL in its quest to expand its video deliverables has announced that it is collaborating with Publicis’s strategic arm, Vivaki, to test personalized and social media video formats, as part of Vivaki’s video standards initiative The Pool.
According to the release, the initial format to be experimented will be a “pre-roll overlay within a video player that offers the viewer an option to click and expand the ad into a branded toolbar, which provides viewers with multiple ways to interact with the brand”.
Another format is a “slate ad” format that empowers users with an alternative choice between a 30- or 15-second ad, with an answer to a question after viewing.
Finally, the third is a pre-roll overlay that comprises of buttons for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media applications so that users can share ads with friends. Specific Media-owned video ad server Vindico will serve ads for all three formats.
Lately, AOL has been in trouble with its stock price, but the company has had positive traction when it comes to its media properties, especially the Huffington Post. It probably anticipates a slate of original video will give it another opportunity to attract strong pageviews and big advertising dollars.