EXCLUSIVE: Alex Winter’s documentary about about the rise and fall of Napster has a new online home. AOL will be making Downloaded available to visitors to its on.aol.com via streaming later this year. This is the portal’s first foray into longform streaming as a part of the distribution deal between the brand company and VH1, which is showing the film theatrically. Downloaded will be on AOL after its big-screen release this summer by the Viacom-owned broadcaster’s VH1 Rock Docs in partnership with Cinetic Media and Richard Abramowitz. The film on the legacy of file sharing pioneer premiered at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. Downloaded will also be on Cable VOD and iTunes later this year as well. “We sold the film to AOL at SXSW,” ,” Winter told me. “Cinetic’s John Sloss, VH1 and I made a deal with our partners that focused heavily on digital/streaming and still gives us room for theatrical and CVOD. It’s a new frontier for distributing movies, and the Internet is finally monetizing in a way that can work for everyone.” The film was directed and executive produced by Winter and executive produced by Maggie Malina. Executive producers for VH1 are Brad Abramson, Warren Cohen, Rick Krim, Bill Flanagan, Shelly Tatro, and Jeff Olde
Shares are up about 7% in pre-market trading after AOL reported a milestone that investors have been waiting to see: Its revenues have finally picked up as gains from ad sales outpaced the declines from its ancient (in Internet terms) Web subscription business. The company says that in Q4 it generated $35.4M in net income, +55.3% vs the period last year, on revenues of $599.5M, +3.9%. The top line number is well ahead of the Street’s expectation for $573.7M. Earnings at 41 cents a share matched the consensus forecast. AOL says that global ad sales were up 13% while subscription revenues fell 10%. The company had 2.8M domestic Internet subscribers at year end, -15%. Revenues at the Brand Group — which includes some of AOL’s most popular Web destinations including the Huffington Post, Moviefone, and its Patch local news sites — were up 4% to $213.2M, but increasing expenses resulted in a 34% decline in cash flow to $8.8M.
Here’s a friendly suggestion for the execs at AOL. Lay off the jargon and industry gobbledygook when you announce a change that’s supposed to clarify what your business is all about. The release this morning about the rebranding of the Advertising.com Group — making it AOL Networks — is a case in point. We’re talking about the operation with ad sales business Advertising.com, video site AOL On Network, and other ad services including goviral, ADTECH, and Pictela. So the AOL Networks name is more all-encompassing than Advertising.com Group? I think so. But someone at the company apparently wanted the explanation to sound more, well, pompous. The release says the new AOL Networks name “should help all stakeholders better understand the rich stack of assets and robust technology it brings together” and ”clearly represents the recognized cross-screen offerings across premium, programatic and performance advertising.”
Got it? No? Perhaps the quotation from AOL Networks CEO Ned Brody can help: “AOL Networks will
NEW YORK, January 24, 2013 – AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) today announced a strategic partnership with Discovery Communications, the world’s number one nonfiction media company. The partnership brings short-form videos from Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science Channel, Military Channel to The AOL On Network’s library of more than 470,000 premium videos.
The stock is up about 7% in early trading. AOL reported net income of $20.7M, up from a $2.6M loss in the quarter last year, on revenues of $531.7M, unchanged. That’s a bit of a surprise: Analysts expected revenues to slip to $521.6M. Earnings per share of 22 cents also beat the consensus forecast of 17 cents. The company says that global ad sales were up 7% to $248.2M, although domestic display was down 3% to $122.5M. AOL crows that traffic at its Patch local news service was up 19% in September vs the same month last year to 11.9M unique visitors. In addition it says that the AOL On Network “grew rapidly” and is now the No. 2 video network by views.
NEW YORK– AOL (NYSE: AOL) today announced the appointment of Karen Dykstra as Chief Financial Officer. Dykstra will serve as a key member of the executive team in optimizing shareholder value by providing strategic leadership for the company’s financial functions including accounting, treasury, tax, financial planning and analysis and investor relations. She will be responsible for the company’s short and long-term financial objectives in support of the business strategy. Dykstra served on the company’s board of directors since December 2009, and fills the role vacated by Artie Minson following his promotion this June to Chief Operating Officer. Dykstra will be based in New York and report to Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO.
A two-pronged announcement this morning from AOL: First is that Samsung Smart TVs, Roku, Sony, and — sometime soon — TiVo will join seven other platforms that pick up AOL’s content. (The app for TiVo is still in beta, …
Jolie Hunt will report to CEO Tim Armstrong in the newly created job of Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. She’ll oversee AOL’s global communications strategy, including internal and external communications; social media; corporate social …
NEW YORK– AOL today announced the promotion of Artie Minson, Jr. from CFO to Chief Operating Officer, overseeing AOL’s plan to form three operating units: AOL Membership Group, Content Brands Group, and the Advertising.com Group. This new role and operating structure will allow the company to go deeper on its focus on profitability, coordinated business execution, and resource allocation across its portfolio of brands and services. He will continue to report to Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO, AOL and the company is actively interviewing replacement candidates for AOL’s CFO position.
CEO Tim Armstrong is following through on his vow to give back to shareholders all of the $1B+ that Microsoft recently paid for more than 800 AOL patents. In addition to previous share repurchases, the company …
UPDATE, 7:18 AM: ”This is a significant milestone for us and for the future of the company” CEO Tim Armstrong said this morning after his victory over Starboard Value’s Jeffrey Smith at the shareholder meeting in Boston. He called the election of the management-endorsed board candidates “a clear indication” that investors “believe the value of the company will be larger in the future than it is today.” That doesn’t mean the criticism will end. “There’s going to be a noise layer for the business on a go-forward basis because we’re in the media business.” But he intends to be “very careful about costs, very careful about revenues.” Meanwhile, AOL wants to add two members to the board: an exec with experience in the tech-mobile world, and another with financial or technical operating skills. Armstrong says he’d consider the Starboard Value candidates — but it sounded like they shouldn’t hold their breaths. “We have other shareholders who have been putting in nominees,” he says. Also the company has hired exec search firm Spencer Stuart. Armstrong expects to close the process “within the next 12 months.”
The masters of news spin do it without appearing obvious. That’s a lesson AOL could learn based on its glaringly self-serving response to a new report from investor advisory group Glass Lewis in the run-up to a bitter June 14 proxy fight. The firm recommended that AOL shareholders elect Starboard Value’s Jeffrey Smith to the board, but not the other two members of his dissident slate. It’s a clear setback for AOL, which is fighting the hedge fund CEO who controls 5.3% of the voting shares. Glass Lewis says that AOL’s board “would benefit from a fresh perspective”, adding that Smith’s pressure has already led the company to take actions that boosted the stock price — including the $1.1B sale of AOL’s patent portfolio to Microsoft. Glass Lewis disputes AOL’s claim that Smith would upend its strategy and destroy shareholder value. AOL’s attacks on Starboard Value are “indicative of a retrenched board unprepared to substantially alter the status quo or consider alternative strategies in the absence of significant external pressure,” the report says.