August 1, 2006
AOL Video Launching Beta Version

News broke yesterday that AOL will be launching a beta version of the new AOL Video platform this week, which is available for free here. According to a press release touting its coming, the new project will offer more than 45 new video-on-demand channels from established brands in traditional media and accessible through search options, and the ability to view both free and pay content, including full-length television shows, film trailers, news and music videos. The free content, of course, will be advertising-supported, since access to the player is free and available to non-AOL customers.

However, the new portal will not simply be one-way communication but also offers users the ability to post their own videos through the UnCut Video site, which provides support to upload video from home video cameras, cell phones or Web cams.

AOL is especially touting its new interactive programming guides which "brings together free and download-to-won video content from across broadcast and cable television and the Web and organizes it into new, branded video-on-demand channels." Additionally, the company brags at having the most powerful video search engine on the Internet, providing search results from a variety of other video sites such as YouTube and Google Video.

Last week, I wrote about IN2TV's new Spanish-language channel, an AOL online content provider that is making 1980s sit-coms available en espanol. But the company is continually expanding its horizons with the video services it offers.

The company is working with a variety of familiar faces from across the cable television spectrum including A&E Television Networks and Procter & Gamble Productions, the oldest soap opera production company in the country which produces As
the World Turns
, the 50-year old soap opera mentioned here frequently due to my research interests in the program. Both MTV Networks and Turner Broadcasting, two of our partners here in the consortium, are also providing programming for the AOL Video initiative.

The power of its deep resources when it comes to content is going to push the product far enough, but does AOL present a unique enough product to compete with YouTube and Google Video in user-generated content and video sharing? And what will its affects be on pay-for-content video providers like Amazon and iTunes?

Thanks to Lynn Liccardo for pointing me in this direction.