By Sahil Patel
AOL wants to build an online video platform centered on real-time news stories and live events. In essence, that is what the company is planning around AOL Live, which will live on AOL.com and officially debut sometime in mid-July.
AOL spokesperson Doug Serton tells VideoInk that AOL Live is the result of insights the company has gleaned from HuffPost Live, as well as “live activations” the company launched in the past year around big events like the presidential election, the Grammys, the Oscars, and most recently, and Nik Wallenda’s tightrope excursion over the Grand Canyon.
With AOL Live, AOL is making the argument that real-time content is a driver of consumption, and by extension advertiser demand. What AOL wants to do is provide advertisers with a platform that allows them to “act in real time” and do it at scale. So ideally, if something happens during a live event, an advertiser can move quickly and attach themselves to that conversation. The logistics to do such a thing on TV can get very complicated. AOL is pitching that it’s easier and more seamless to do something like that on AOL Live, and still achieve the scale that advertisers desire.
There is also another goal for AOL: The company wants to promote all of its brands that aren’t The Huffington Post, which obviously has its own, distinct live offering.
“AOL Live will give us a forum to not only showcase that type and breadth of content we offer on AOL.com, but, because AOL Live is still in its infancy, we can still shape it in the form that we think will work,” says Serton.
To do this effectively, AOL Live will most likely be channel-based, instead of a singular live stream. Some of these channels will cater to AOL’s content partners as well as “tentpole events” such as the Grammys or the next thing Wallenda tries to walk over.
As for that casting call AOL held today in New York, those are for hourly news segments AOL Live will air every day. The company is looking for interesting personalities — those capable of delivering news, sports, entertainment, and weather reports. The company is hosting a second casting call tomorrow, which you can watch on the AOL Live section at AOL.com between 5am and 10am.
The way AOL sees it, people already come to its site for trending news stories and topics. Looking at this element of the site from the AOL Live perspective, why not solicit viewer feedback to decide who gets to deliver them the news?
It’s important to note that AOL is still hammering out details when it comes to programming and production, including what times of day content will air.
While the launch date isn’t that far off, it doesn’t seem like AOL is worried. As Serton notes, AOL wants to experiment, at least initially, with AOL Live to see what works: “We are looking to be very adaptable from both a consumer and advertiser perspective.”