AOL Joins Online Video Battle

Time Warner Inc.’s AOL has taken on YouTube, Yahoo and Google with its own video offering.

The service launches as AOL embraces the mainstream adoption of broadband with a revamp of its site. Viewing videos online is much smoother with broadband than with other connections. AOL is banking on this technology through new offerings like video and free e-mail accounts for broadband users.

“We believe that video represents what’s next,” said Fred McIntyre, vice president of AOL Video, New York. “So we’re building for what’s next to get there first. Then we’ll be ahead of the market.”

The AOL video portal brings together free and download-to-own video programming from content partners across broadcast and cable television and the Web, organized into new, branded video-on-demand channels. Programming partners include MTV Networks, Nickelodeon and A&E Networks.

AOL also will program its own channels like AOL Music, AOL News and Movies, which will run content from live concerts and CNN news stories to movie trailers for current Hollywood films. The AOL Viral Videos channel will be a source for users to post, view and pass along home videos.

What differentiates this video service from others on the Web is the search feature, Mr. McIntyre said. AOL is using search to ensure that its online video library contains every video posted on the Internet.

The search function works as a real-time crawler that scours the Internet for videos that are being added every second. The TruVio visual crawler looks at Web pages like a human eye, rather than just looking for code. This aids in relevancy because it can detect not only a coded video, but a text description, tag lines and links to similar videos.

“Video search is critical because the rate at which videos are coming online is staggering,” Mr. McIntyre said. “New videos are being added at a dizzying pace, and the only way to keep up is with search.”

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