While Ken Auletta’s New Yorker piece expressed skepticism about AOL’s content model — combining hyperlocal news and with big name entertainment, sports and news coverage in a bid to be all things to all people — the company’s latest high profile programming deal with former Victora’s Secret model Heidi Klum is meant to further strengthen another important part of its strategy: more women’s content.
The deal with Klum comes as AOL (NYSE: AOL) continues to refine its range of content offerings. For example, two weeks ago, AOL announced content- and ad revenue sharing deals with The Sporting News, Everyday Health, and it will collaborate with real estate data site Move.com. In essence, AOL decided to outsource content production to those entities as the cost of doing it all in house were not only enormous, they also wouldn’t be able to beat these established outlets.
That’s not to say that AOL couldn’t create popular content offerings on its own. But running, building and maintaining them are a particular challenge for a company that is aiming so high. Therefore, it agreed to hand management of its popular FanHouse sports blog to The Sporting News.
On the women’s content front, the week before its trio of content/ad deals, AOL folded its women’s site Lemondrop into MyDaily.com and began shuttering its male counterpart, Asylum, which unlike its female-focused sibling, had no general men’s channel to be absorbed by.
With Klum on board, AOL will create “exclusive original programming” covering fashion, beauty, parenting, arts and crafts, relationships and Lifestyle. As Auletta said in his article, these topics are everywhere on the web. But a prominent brand name often helps to attract attention from consumers and advertisers. So depending on Klum’s ability to draw an audience — along with the quality of her production company, Full Picture Entertainment, which was behind her reality series/competition Project Runway — the skepticism that’s been dogging AOL for the past few years might begin to diminish. Release