It’s been a good five months for AOL, which has grown its video business through acquisitions and in-house production and seen that hard work pay off in traffic. According to comScore, AOL Video is now number five in unique viewers and number seven in videos viewed. In addition, unique visitors to AOL Video have grown 62 percent since September 2010, with videos viewed growing by 49 percent.
“Not a lot of people connect video to AOL,” AOL SVP of Video Ran Harnevo said in a phone interview, “But we’re getting more and more ‘videoized,’ so to speak.”
Watch more The Urlesque Show videos on AOL Video
It helps that there’s a lot more video to watch. AOL’s first move to spur growth in the space was last September’s acquisition of syndication network 5min Media, which helped bulk up its video offerings.
Since then, AOL hired away Babelgum’s Amber J. Lawson to head up video programming, spent over $100 million to acquire other startups and syndicated content from Howcast, Revision3 and Next New Networks, while also investing in some original productions, including video content for AOL network sites like Popeater and Moviefone.
Bringing in third-party content is key to this strategy, though. Recent moves include condensing and packaging podcasts by Kevin Pollak, Adam Carolla and Kevin Smith as the AOL Late Night series, and Jesse Draper’s Valley Girl will also soon become a syndication partner, Draper and Harnevo both told me.
“A big video business must comprise a syndication angle. AOL embraces third-party content, period. That’s a big change,” Harnevo said, adding that it’s in the curation of content where AOL finds its editorial voice. According to him, the AOL Video network now includes 200,000 curated aggregated videos: “the biggest curated network on the net.”
The site gets 15 million unique visitors to its home page every day, which was redesigned to showcase AOL video content, giving AOL an audience on the level of what Harnevo termed “a big TV station.” This means the company isn’t afraid to try out shows and then cancel them, like Next New Networks’ The One, the production of which halted several weeks ago. “What works stays, what doesn’t, doesn’t,” Harnevo said.
Harnevo’s long-term goal is for AOL to be number one in terms of curated content, as “we cannot compete with UGC strategy from a comScore perspective.” He puts the timeline for that at about 12 months.
Disclosure: In the past, I freelanced for the AOL-owned Lemondrop.com. I have not written for the site since December 2009.
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