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HBO’s first foray into broadband is a partnership with Time Warner sibling AOL — a broadband comedy channel called This Just In that will replace the AOL Comedy channel. (There’s so many comedy channels piling up I’m waiting for someone to give in and call the next one YABCC.) The site is slated to launch in early 2007. The link is included in the release but it’s a domain park for now. In a blast from the distant dot.com past, the site will be headed by Steve Stanford, who was founder and CEO of Icebox.com and co-founder and early days COO of Amp’d Mobile.
— AOL Media Networks will handle ad sales, using the HBO “first” angle — described in the release as a chance for advertisers “to associate their brands with an HBO property for the first time ever with the site clearly identified as ‘powered by HBO.'” In addition to traditional ad units, AOL and HBO will work with advertisers on programming that incorporates marketing “in a way that is as engaging as the content itself.” This keys in with what Janet Balis, AOL SVP-sales development, said at Ad-Tech last week about alternatives to pre/post roll.
— Jim Bankoff, EVP-consumer and publisher services for AOL, calls it a match between AOL’s online expertise and HBO’s comedy reputation.
— Content will include extensive video based on a comic look at current events and a blog format to keep users up to date. Expect AOL to toss the growing contents of its tech toolbox at the site.
— This Just In will be used as an incubator for other HBO platforms
Notice how carefully HBO and AOL are skating around anything that sounds like possible competition with the cable and satellite providers who pay the bills.