IP&TV News chats to the esteemed Ran Harnevo about AOL’s video vision…
Hi Ran. AOL is now the second biggest OTT provider after YouTube. Can you tell us something about that journey?
Two years ago, we set out to make AOL On content available on every OTT device. We were strategic in our approach, and we were intentional in designing a smooth product that represented the AOL brand well. The decision to create new shows and original content was a significant one, as it meant that we were investing in ourselves and in AOL Video for the long term. We’re just seeing the dividends pay off now — two AOL Originals are nominated for Emmys, and #CandidlyNicole is now on VH1.
Is AOL trying to increase its visibility in this area?
Video is one of the fastest-growing divisions at AOL, and we’ve dramatically increased our market share over the past few years. AOL already powers the main news channel on Roku and we’re constantly exploring similar opportunities to increase our visibility among consumers. We have a bigger marketing job to do around AOL’s availability on connected TVs and devices, but we’re ramping up efforts to coincide with the launch of our original series.
Why do the OTT players seem to be leading the way in this area – does it reflect a paradigm shift?
The connected TV experience reflects the sophistication of design and the growing trend towards customization. Consumers today are choosing very specific experiences to interact and engage with instead of the traditional bundle. The challenge for cable providers is that the bundle economy is still strong, so it doesn’t allow them to shift focus and move into a different environment smoothly. This opens up a white space for digital players like AOL to move into and provide the types of content and distribution methods that consumers want.
What impact do you anticipate the cloud will have on broadcasting?
The cloud will eventually improve streaming to the extent that it becomes a non-issue. Once the industry is freed from these early hiccups associated with streaming, I predict that the cloud will usher in a new era — one that allows us to create a more sustainable platform and shape a better OTT experience for consumers.
What’s next for AOL? How do you take things to the next level?
AOL is doubling down on OTT and original content. As we continue to expand our offerings and commission more long form series, including movies, we’ll have a huge opportunity to compete for eyeballs on a bigger screen. On the technology side, we’ll continue to make programmatic a priority, and our key differentiator will be the quality of our content, delivered via our best-in-class technology.
Ran Harnevo will be appearing at this year’s TVXperience (October 13-15 , Convene Center, New York), for booking and more info go here.