AOL has announced this morning new iOS and Android apps that provide access to over 420K curated videos from its AOL On Network. AOL is including videos from its owned properties such as Engadget, TechCrunch, HuffPo Live and partners like Martha Stewart, Travel Channel and E!.
I've been playing around with the app a bit on my iPad this morning and it's a strong user experience. Upon launch, a set of highlight videos moves across the screen, with others displayed below. At left there's an icon which allows the user to pick videos from among 14 channels like Business, Food or Parenting. At right there's an icon that allows the user to go directly to certain content properties and/or search within them. The videos can then be sorted A-Z, by date, or by number of views. I only have one nit which is that there's no persistent "home" icon to get back to the starting point (you have to navigate to "Top Picks").
AOL has been on a roll with video. Earlier this week it announced that it would distribute 20K of its original videos through YouTube, expanding its reach. Last week I wrote that AOL delivered 725 million videos in August, second only (albeit distantly) to YouTube, up 78% year-over-year and helped by syndication. Back in August, AOL released the 2.0 version of its connected app that's now available on 10 different devices. Also in August, HuffPo Live launched, marking the site's aggressive move into the cable-style talk show format. Last spring AOL was a founding partner in the Digital Content NewFronts, with a slate of original video programming angling for TV ad dollars.
Clearly video has become hugely strategic for AOL, and its commitment seems to be paying off. No doubt there are plenty more video initiatives in the hopper.
(Beet.TV has a good interview with Rob Delacruz, AOL's GM for Connected TV and Mobile Video)