AOL unveiled its new content strategy at a press conference on Monday, and it revolves around maximizing daily traffic and advertising dollars rather than subscription sales. AOL will still provide subscribers with a package of software and support services such as parental controls, special sections for children and antivirus and security programs, but the emphasis will now be on providing free content, including music and videos, for the general public.
The new version of AOL will go live at the end of June, and it will feature 27 channels, a video hub, free e-mail and a new video search function, among other features. AOL feels that offering video will be a key draw and the video programming will be a combination of licensed and original content. The AOL video hub will present clips, replays and other material from sister company HBO, along with a growing collection of film from movies, television and other entertainment arenas. Original content will include The Biz reality show, a Top 10 video listing of whatís popular each day, a comedy channel of up-to-the-minute news, and sports updates.
AOL Music also will become searchable. AOL Media Networks EVP and CEO Kevin Conroy pointed to the live performance series AOL Sessions as proof that offering more free content will bring in Web traffic and music fans. He said the opening of AOL Music to the public last October boosted its audience by 37 percent.