AOL Names NBC U's Randy Falco CEO, Chairman
"A key to Time Warner's digital future, AOL is showing early success in transitioning to an advertising-focused business model, and Randy is a first-rate choice to ensure AOL realizes its promise," Time Warner chairman and CEO Dick Parsons said in a statement.
Faced with dwindling paying subscribers, AOL is attempting to transition from a subscription-based Internet access company to a portal supported by online advertising. This summer, AOL dropped subscription fees for users that accessed the e-mail and other AOL services via broadband connections. That move came about one year after AOL began making its articles, photos, videos and other content available for free to any Web users.
In its most recent quarterly earnings report, Parsons sounded a positive note. "Not only are former AOL subscribers coming back, a host of new first-time users are signing up," he told analysts. Third-quarter ad revenue at the company increased 45%, but subscription revenue had declined 13%. The company counted about 15 million paying subscribers total (10 million dial-up; 5 million broadband)--down from a high of around 26 million in 2002.
Falco, president and chief operating officer of the NBC Universal Television Group, is responsible for the group's commercial and operational functions, including network and cable sales, information technology, and worldwide television distribution. Recently, he has been instrumental in bolstering NBC's efforts to distribute content online. In September, he unveiled a plan to start syndicating short video clips to a variety of Web sites via the company's new National Broadband Company, or NBBC.
Falco previously served as president of the NBC Television Network. Among other tasks, he oversaw creation of the "Today" show's "Window on the World" studio. Falco first joined NBC in 1975.