AOL and Michael Eisner's Vuguru Team Up To Create Original Content for AOL
Partnership Will Create Premium Scripted Online Series
New York, NY – November 10, 2010 – AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) and Vuguru, an independent studio that finances world-class story-driven content for digital and emerging platforms, today announced that Vuguru will develop and produce a minimum of six original scripted series for distribution by AOL. The partnership is part of AOL's strategy to provide high-quality content and engaging video experiences for its millions of users. This announcement further demonstrates AOL's commitment to the fast-emerging video space, and its conviction that online viewers value quality.
Founded by Michael Eisner, who served as Chairman & CEO of The Walt Disney Company for more than two decades after presiding over Paramount Pictures and before that, helping to take the ABC network from number three to number one in primetime, Vuguru is an ideal partner for AOL to help drive well-produced, compelling entertainment content across the Web.
"Until now, there's been a gap in the online video consumer experience between user-generated video and the high production values of TV and film," said Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL. "In joining forces with Vuguru and other premier studios and production companies, AOL is uniquely able to bridge that gap by bringing top quality, original video to the millions of users who come to our site each day. The magical combination of AOL's impressive reach with one of the most visionary content creators will help us become a market leader in this largely untapped space."
Eisner expressed, "The Internet's next growth phase will be powered by professional, high-quality, story-driven content and the key to success is delivering that content to as many users as possible. With AOL's best-in-breed distribution strength, I couldn't have asked for a better partner to help reach that goal." Added Vuguru's President Larry Tanz, "AOL's significant commitment to premium video content is inspiring to Vuguru which is equally focused on the same."
Original Online Programming Promises to Set "New Bar"
Vuguru will develop and produce a minimum of six high-quality, scripted video series over the next year, with AOL as its launch partner in the U.S.
With production values that far exceed the production costs, the six shows will set a new bar for original online entertainment. Each project will be produced as a continuous story of approximately 90 minutes in length with cliff-hangers or natural breaks so that they can be segmented for episodic distribution. The shows will be professionally written and produced and feature talent consistent with the caliber of Vuguru and AOL.
Partners Join Forces to Maximize Audience Engagement
In addition to rethinking the way that high-quality video content is produced and delivered, the deal is unique in that AOL and Vuguru will work together to package and sell these productions to maximize audience engagement and advertiser interest. Joining forces in this way will also help the two companies take advantage of the widely accepted industry rule that video monetizes at four times the value of traditional online content.
AOL is investing considerably in video and it's paying off. In the past 3 months, video playbacks on the AOL network have grown 90%* Additionally, AOL acquired 5Min Media which had nearly 23 million unique viewers and more than 140 million video streams (including ad and content videos) in the U.S. in September 2010**. The company's recently announced original video franchises are performing well. "You've Got," the video feature that launched on the new AOL.com November 1st, generated more than 2M playbacks in its first week.*** For comparison, that puts "You've Got" on-pace with a top 10 web series****.
AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) is a leading global Web services company with an extensive suite of brands and offerings and a substantial worldwide audience. AOL's business spans online content, products and services that the company offers to consumers, publishers and advertisers. AOL is focused on attracting and engaging consumers and providing valuable online advertising services on both AOL's owned and operated properties and third-party websites. In addition, AOL operates one of the largest Internet subscription access services in the United States, which serves as a valuable distribution channel for AOL's consumer offerings.
About Vuguru LLC
Vuguru LLC is an independent studio that develops and finances scripted, story-driven content for digital and international platforms. Founded by Michael Eisner's Tornante Company and backed by Canada's Rogers Media, the studio brings premium content opportunities to advertisers and distribution partners, enabling them to connect with target audiences. Vuguru's inaugural series Prom Queen pioneered the online serial space with its unique format and distribution. Follow-up series have included Prom Queen: Summer Heat, Sam Has 7 Friends, The All-For-Nots, Foreign Body and two seasons of the Emmy-nominated Back on Topps. Vuguru programming has been distributed in over 40 countries around the world.
**comScore September 2010 Video Metrix.