NEW YORK – In many ways AOL (NYSE:AOL) is the company that won’t die the company that was once synonymous with the internet failed to offer high-speed or mobile service and has largely been left behind. Attempts to refashion the company as a media conglomerate also failed, think of the Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) debacle. Therefore, it came as a surprise on Monday when the company announced that it was pursuing a new strategic direction, an online TV company.
On Monday evening, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong will host what the company is calling the first-ever online programming upfront. The event is intended to publicize original content that AOL has created to stream for advertisers; just do not try to watch it with a dial-up connection. Robert Peck as Sun Trust Robinson called the event ‘a watershed moment not only for AOL but for Internet programming, it’s the first time we’ve seen something like this happen, and it demonstrates that Tim is trying to embrace the trend to premium-video content that his advertisers are telling him is happening.’
On Monday, the company will attempt to sell marketers, advertising agencies, and investors on a package of online shows that includes celebrities such as Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hank Azaria, and Nicole Richie. The program is intended to challenge Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Hulu in the online programming space.
In doing so the company will try to sell advertisers on how the combination of AOL’s original programming and the company’s online advertising platforms can make AOL the go-to place to link with video publishers that use computers to power what the industry calls programmatic buying. According to some analysts, this might be AOL’s last attempt to remake itself into a company that still matters.
In pitching the online program, AOL will also try to highlight some of the technology that the company has developed to help marketers find the right place for their message in the fastest, most efficient manner. According to a company spokesperson, ‘the automated play will allow us to give money back to the marketers and the agencies, so that they can do more in creativity and content.’
Shares in AOL were flat in early trading on Monday.