As we close out 2010, AOL has been busier than Congress this month with a flurry of new deals for us to chew on before New Year’s. The latest is a key talent hire in bringing on Amber J. Lawson as the company’s new Head of Video Programming. Lawson will oversee AOL Studios, AOL Video hub, AOL.com and deals with 3rd party production companies making original content for the network. More specifically, she’ll now have about 566 million video streams a month to look after.
The hire takes Lawson from her post at online network Babelgum where she was the Comedy Publisher, growing the site’s comedy channel into a respected curation of comedic shorts and series. Notable pickups include Streamy Award-winner Kevin Pollak’s Vamped Out and the popular Kids Reenact series from Landline TV.
Much of AOL’s new focus on original web video can be tracked to David Eun, the new president of AOL’s media and studios division, who came on board after leading global content partnerships for Google/YouTube. With a user base of over 100 million uniques in the U.S. and close to 250 million globally, Eun’s new strategy for AOL is to slim down the 80-plus AOL sites into 17 advertiser-friendly verticals dubbed “super networks,” running across just 30 sites.
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Some of the more notable partnerships that will fall under Lawson’s purview include the recent multi-web-series deal with Vuguru and similar setups with Next New Networks and Electus. There’s also a fare amount of celebrity content like The Secret Millionaire’s Club on AOL Kids,
As for Babelgum, its outlook is not so clear. No immediate replacement has been named for Lawson and there are indications that the network may be shifting strategy itself as the Milan-based startup looks for a sustainable business model.
Lawson’s deep roots in the comedy world will no doubt come into play in the new role, and we expect to see more comedy content coming out of AOL next year. Already it appears one of the content partners she brought into Babelgum—Landline TV—has come over to AOL for some new videos. The latest, Kids Get Christmas Story All Wrong just went live today:
Lawson will still be based in Los Angeles, based at AOL’s Beverly Hills office. (Creators looking to score some points can send their congratulatory chocolates to Lawson at her office: AOL, Inc. 331 N. Maple Dr. Los Angeles, California 90210)