The race for dominance in providing content and a viable site for online video has been very tight in the past year-and-a-half. As AOL tries to establish itself more and more as a content provider rather than a service provider, the company has continued giving a great deal of attention into improving both its content and its services in relation to video.
This week, AOL relaunched its video portal to improve the search functions, as well as to be able to increase access to non-AOL content online and to make the home page reflect such features. The new site allows for playing YouTube videos, among other things.
I wrote back in April about AOL's bid in the upfronts, announcing that they are going to have a series of shows exclusively from AOL built around their own advertising model that they hoped to use to compete with traditional broadcast and cable options. See more here.
AOL also has purchased Third Screen Media, as I pointed out back in May, leading one to wonder how AOL plans to expand its services across platforms in the future.
Steve Bryant is particularly unimpressed by AOL's new "UnCut Video" section featuring user-generated content because of their emphasis on "Videos uploaded by YOU." He writes, "AOL still feels like that place I dialed up in '95 to chat about Nirvana. You can't go home again."
Meanwhile, Josh Catone at Read/Write Web provides an interesting look at redesigns for AOL News, as well as CNN's Web site and the USA Today site, concluding that "AOL's embrace of blog culture seems to only go skin deep. The inconsistencies surrounding mainstay blog features, such as commenting, make the site feel a bit disjointed and frustrating to use."