Viacom Lures Flannigan From AOL

Erik Flannigan, vice president of programming at AOL, is leaving the company to join Viacom, where he will help lead digital efforts at MTV Network's Comedy Central and Spike TV, OnlineMediaDaily has learned.

Mike Rich will replace Flannigan at AOL, as vice president, general manager for AOL Music, AOL Radio, Moviefone.com and AOL Television. Flannigan, who had served as vice president, programming for music, radio, Moviefone and television, came to AOL in September of 2005. Previously, he held the position of vice president of programming for Walt Disney Company's Buena Vista Datacasting.

While at AOL, Flannigan spearheaded several new entertainment initiatives. Late last year, the company unveiled a new Web-based music service, AOL Music Now, which sells music downloads at 99 cents a track, as well as monthly subscriptions. AOL Music this summer also forged a deal with Bruce Springsteen to stream live video footage from the musician's tour. AOL offered one song per concert, selected by the musician.

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In February, AOL began distributing feature stories and CD reviews from Blender magazine, as part of a deal that also created a co-branded Blender/AOL radio station.

Viacom's MTV Networks has recently been building out its Web presence. In July, MTV Networks tapped Courtney Holt to head digital efforts in music, including at MTV, VH1 and the CMT channels. The following month, the company purchased Atom Entertainment for $200 million, gaining four major units--gaming sites Shockwave.com and AddictingGames.com, and short-form video sites AtomFilms.com and AddictingClips.com. MTV also tapped Google to distribute a host of video clips to AdSense publishers.

Viacom also has had some online stumbles. Earlier this year, Viacom lost its chief digital officer, Jason Hirschhorn. In addition, Viacom head Tom Freston was forced out last month--a move now viewed as stemming from Viacom's failure to acquire social networking site MySpace when the site was up for sale last year.

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