Another day, another move by AOL to deepen its commitment to online video. Today the company announced that Michael Eisner's independent online video studio Vuguru will produce at least 6 original series for distribution by AOL. Each series will be 90 minutes in length and broken into segments for episodic distribution. The companies are positioning the series as filling a role between high-cost Hollywood content and user-generated content on the low end.
The deal follows AOL's recent acquisition of video syndicator 5Min and its acquisition earlier this year of video platform and production company StudioNow. With 5Min in particular, AOL can further distribute the Vuguru series to a network of third-party publishers as well as on its own site. By expanding reach and leveraging its own ad sales capabilities, AOL is much better positioned to monetize the original content. I would also expect involvement of brands along the way as well, morphing some of the series or episodes into branded content or involving clever product placement. AOL has tied its future heavily to advertising, and clearly recognizes that video offers higher value opportunities than other forms and is therefore pushing hard to create more content and video ad inventory.
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