Taking over New York’s South Street Seaport on Tuesday evening, AOL threw a carnival-like NewFront dubbed “Access” to showcase its commitment to online video, mobile and data. The company highlighted its scale vis-à-vis its nearly year-long tie-up with Verizon, plunging into tons of original video programming and new partnerships.
The company will create a ground-floor, 13,400-square-foot public-facing studio around the corner from its lower Manhattan offices. The move, very similar to broadcast networks’ studios like that of NBC’s "Today Show," will showcase live, 360-degree video and virtual reality.
In late April, AOL acquired RYOT Corp., a Los Angeles-based firm that produces 360-degree and virtual reality programming and branded video content. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong told reporters that the company already streams 100 million hours of live video per day via all its global partnerships. And it already produces four hours per day of live programming from its existing in-office studio, and 75 live events per month.
AOL is committed to creating “immersive, live experiences” for consumers, according to Jimmy Maymann, EVP and president of AOL Content & Consumer brands. “We are seeing that people don’t want linear experiences, they want multiscreen experiences.”
Armstrong said that AOL’s audience is now 70% mobile and that it’s slotted 20 new original video series across its portfolio.
The company set up stations throughout the Seaport for NewFront attendees to personally experience its programming and other offerings. Properties like TechCrunch, Engadget and the Huffington Post each had stations, along with the rest of the portfolio.
Also speaking at the event, Brian Angiolet, SVP consumer product portfolio, Verizon, said that Go90, the company’s mobile video service, is taking ownership stakes in new brands like AwesomenessTV, a network targeting 12- to 24-year-old females.
Angiolet said Go90 will also be adding more programming targeting GenZ (consumers 18 and younger), is working with more network partners including Hearst and Seriously.TV, and developing original content with A-list directors planned for early next year.
Verizon bought AOL nearly a year ago, and executives at the NewFront made it clear that the combined company wants to be the most important mobile media tech company in the world. “The moble device is the real master of the universe -- it’s our second brain. Consumers love to have integrated experiences, ones that feel live and that are enabled by video,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong took the opportunity to note that AOL’s done 10 major deals since the Verizon deal. He cited AOL’s taking over Microsoft’s advertising business, its acquisition of Millennial Media and Kanvas, a live video network with more than 2.5 million users. Kanvas enables users to upload and edit live video.
As for data, Armstrong called it AOL’s “differentiator," noting that the company is using data to understand the benefits it’s able to bring to consumers. “Data today is the great differentiator in terms of getting consumers the right content at the right time; it’s the engine behind the economy,” he said.