After the HBO digital team in LA was dismissed, AOL and HBO contacts insisted their comedy JV This Just In was on track even with the earlier departure of GM Steve Stanford. Now, according to Variety and Hollywood Reporter, the site will shutter by the end of August because it failed to gain traction in a crowded field. (It also could have something to do with a marketing gap and other execution issues.) No comment from HBO and AOL and we haven’t been able to confirm yet. Still, despite the recent denials, it’s more than plausible, especially given the management changes at the top of both AOL and HBO since the JV was planned and the subsequent ripples.
When Time Warner sibling Time Inc. closed OfficePirates after a few months, it had a whole network of sites still at work. This was HBO’s first — and only — ad-supported digital venture. Back in June, we were told Eric Kessler, one of the recently promoted co-presidents, still has top-line responsibility for new media. And that HBO’s digital strategy/management plans would be more clear in a couple of weeks. So far, no real clarity — although an on-demand broadband site with cable ops is still likely. In the meantime, we have This Just In‘s description of the site: “Welcome to This Just In, a joint venture between Time Warner divisions AOL and HBO that puts the “er” in “synergy.” “Er” is right.
Variety: “Departures were the result of a split in HBO’s approach to the digital world; some execs argued in favor of capitalizing on the online ad boom with new ancillary businesses, while others advocated using new media to extend the net’s core brand and products. HBO is now thought to be taking the latter approach under new co-prexy Eric Kessler.”