AOL Partners With Vuguru On Episodic Content
On the prowl for compelling content, AOL has tapped Vuguru to develop and produce at least six original scripted series over the next year. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed. To be distributed domestically by AOL, each project will be produced as a continuous story of approximately 90 minutes in length with cliffhangers so they can be segmented episodically.
AOL and Vuguru have agreed to work together to package and sell the productions to increase audience engagement and advertiser interest.
Remarking on AOL's "distribution strength," Vuguru founder Michael Eisner explained: "The key to success is delivering ... content to as many users as possible."
Founded by the former Disney head in late 2006, Vuguru is a "new media" production studio that prides itself on lean production costs and high-quality material.
Along with its well-publicized content ambitions, the partnership also supports AOL's video strategy. To that end, the company recently announced the acquisition of online video distributor 5Min Media. Meanwhile, in the past 3 months, AOL said video playbacks across its network have grown 90%.
Vuguru has been undergoing an executive makeover since October, when it took investment from Canada's Rogers Media, which resulted in a strategic partnership.
Vuguru, which previously operated inside of Eisner's Tornante Company, became a stand-alone entity as part of the Rogers deal, with Eisner serving as chairman. Soon after, in December, the studio named Larry Tanz as its new president. Vuguru also entered into a long-term distribution agreement with Rogers for the exclusive Canadian rights to future projects and plans to ramp up production significantly.
In April, Vuguru named Kristin Jones -- former SVP of production, international development, and acquisitions at Disney-owned Miramax Films -- as its new chief creative officer.
In the third quarter, ad revenue at AOL fell 27% year-over-year. Overall, ad revenue declined $109 million year-over-year. Worse still, AOL said it has lost about $848 million since the beginning of the year.