AOLTV will succeed because of the strength of the AOL brand and because its lead in the on-line market makes it able to federate many of its competitors. That at least was the message from Rob Friedman, newly installed president, worldwide interactive marketing TV at AOL, in his keynote address to MIP-COM delegates.
Friedman positioned AOLTV as an upgrade to the existing AOL package in much the same way that AOL's access software has evolved from 4.0 to 5.0. "Just because we can do many things, it is not sure that the consumer wants all of them'We're going to be starting with something they are already doing and give them AOL on their TV set."
He said that in its initial stages AOLTV will have three strands: AOL's existing features such as messaging and e-mail; organisational features such as a programme or cinema guide and enhanced TV features which deliberately fall short of full interactivity. "This will not be about re-writing the last episode of a series."
Friedman, whose career has spanned Procter & Gamble, Playboy TV, MTV and more recently New Line TV, said that brands will become increasingly important in the on-line environment. "As a company we must remain focused on content. But with content comes clutter. We will get more clutter as broadband becomes more widely available. We'll have it on every device. Brands are more than a logo and more than a name. They are what we use to get through clutter." "Even if people don't buy on-line they do use the web to compare products and prices. That is why so many companies need a web presence. Our argument is we get eyeballs, we can help sell your product'. We are in the business of sharing revenues with other companies, including our competitors."
"What makes AOL Time Warner different from other media companies is the AOL part. There is no other company with that online reach. The merger was not about selling more magazine subscriptions. It is also about cutting down the marketing costs of a film. If you consider that there is hardly a movie today where you don't spend $40m in the weeks before release, if I could take $20m off that and either put it on my bottom line or use it to put more butts on seats that's making a difference."