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AOL Launches TV Download Channels

1 Aug, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

Apple's iTunes no longer has the TV-show download market cornered.

AOL this week launched the beta phase of its new video portal, which goes live Aug. 4 with 45 new video-on-demand content channels, as well as an elaborate programming guide and search system and a space for user-generated content.

Shows from MTV Networks will be available on a branded channel at www.aolvideo.com, with content from 10 of the Viacom company's content venues — Comedy Central, Logo, Nickelodeon, The N, Nick at Nite, MTV, MTV2, Spike TV, TV Land and VH1.

The launch lineup includes MTV Networks shows — some of the most popular downloads at competitor iTunes — such as “Chappelle's Show,” “South Park,” “Laguna Beach,” “Punk'd,” “Viva La Bam” and others.

“We have created the best and easiest place online for anyone on the Web to find, watch and share the videos they are looking for,” said Kevin Conroy, EVP of AOL.

Meanwhile, those MTV Networks shows will be available for download at AOL alongside content that doesn't appear at iTunes.

The A&E Television Networks VOD channel for AOL will include shows from The Biography Channel, such as “American Icons” and “Mysteries of the Bible,” as well as The History Channel shows “Modern Marvels,” “Digging for the Truth” and “Decoding the Past.” Other A&E Network episodic shows AOL Video will carry include “Inked,” “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” and “Flip this House”

The Warner Bros. Entertainment Channel will offer full-length episodes of “Babylon 5,” “MADtv,” “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons,” all shows Warner recently made available for download at iTunes as well. AOL's Warner lineup also includes “The Dukes of Hazzard,” while iTunes has the long-running “Friends” and the pilot episode of “Aquaman.”

Other Time Warner companies like TNT are part of AOL's new VOD lineup, with TNT original movies, behind-the-scenes extras and interviews from TNT original series ‘The Closer,” “Saved” and “Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King” in the content mix, too.

Other TV content is available through AOL's In2TV Channel, with shows like “Falcon Crest,” “Elimidate,” “Max Headroom,” “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” “Welcome Back Cotter,” “Pinky and the Brain,” “Growing Pains,” “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.” and others all grouped into thematic channels such as Dramarama TV, LOL TV, Vintage TV and Toontopia TV to name a few.

Other VOD channels at AOL include comedy-centric National Lampoon, Spanish language Sorpresa!, all-soap-opera channel Proctor & Gamble Productions and more.

Users can post and share their own video submissions at the AOL UnCut Video and AOL Viral Videos channels. Other AOL-branded channels include AOL Music, AOL News, AOL Coaches and Moviefone, which will host trailers, movie clips and the original Web series “Unscripted.”

AOL is blending pay and free content and enhancing its catalog with AOL Video Search, with search technology from Truveo and Singingfish.

In the wake of AOL's announcement, competitor Google Video's (which is still in beta phase) TV slate looks even slimmer, compared to the iTunes and now the AOL TV VOD juggernaut. Google Video boasts just a handful of shows, such as “Charlie Rose,” “CSI,” “MacGyver,” “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

AOL Video's Aug. 4 launch is the public beta test. The official launch of the site will be at the end of August. Most video content on the service is free or ad-supported; otherwise, episodic download prices are $1.99, the same as iTunes and Google Video.

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