Ran Harnevo On AOL’s Video Strategy And The Web’s “Massive Wave” Of Original Content

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We’re a few weeks away from the Digital Content NewFronts, where the big online companies pitch their upcoming programs to advertisers. So it seemed like a good time to sit down with Ran Harnevo, AOL’s president of video, to talk about the company’s plans, and about broader trends in the industry.

Harnevo suggested that House of Cards on Netflix became “a defining moment” in “a massive wave” in original programming on the web. In its own way, AOL is participating in that wave too, he said, with 15 new shows launched last year and “a totally different breadth of content” to be announced at the NewFronts.

“I think that the beautiful thing about the Internet, from its beginning, is that it’s non-linear and essentially there’s much more creative freedom,” Harnevo said. “A talent like Steve Buscemi or Sarah Jessica Parker or whomever, if they have passion proejcts that they really really care about, if you go on TV and it doesn’t work [in the] first episode, second episode, you’re either out or you need to change. Primetime is so expensive that there’s not a lot of flexibility and not a lot of authenticity.”

Even with those celebrity names, it may seem strange to discuss AOL (which owns TechCrunch) as a major video publisher. Harnevo said that when it comes to video, the company may have less name recognition because it’s taking more “open” approach, distributing its videos across a number of properties.

“Vimeo and YouTube are easier to grasp because it’s big, but it’s one product,” he said.