07.17.2005 12:29 PM
AOL, XM Radio form joint venture

Live, on-demand concerts and comedy shows will be the foundation of a new joint venture for delivering entertainment via the Internet, satellite, wireless and other platforms.

The joint venture involves America Online, XM Satellite Radio Holdings (XMSR) and Anschutz’s AEG unit, which owns sports and entertainment arenas and produces concerts and other shows.

Formation of the company, called Network Live, follows AOL’s success earlier this month in delivering seven separate video feeds from the Live 8 concerts — all without any technical glitches common with early high-interest events online. At least 5 million people viewed the July 2 shows online, and AOL broke its own records with a peak of 175,000 simultaneous users.

XM Satellite Radio also carried separate commercial-free digital audio feeds of each of the Live 8 concerts.

Kevin Wall, who oversaw production of the Live 8 video broadcasts for AOL and other outlets worldwide, will serve as Network Live’s chief executive. Wall, former vice chairman of the Internet services company iXL Enterprises, told the New York Times that AEG plans to offer up to 40 concerts this year and develop its own brand-name series, which could then be distributed or downloaded to a variety of devices.

Revenue will come from ads and licensing fees, with no current plans to charge for shows on a pay-per-view basis. No other financial terms were disclosed, besides saying all three companies and Wall have equity stakes.

AOL already offers free concerts and other video programs on the Internet, both live and on demand, and the new venture will expand on the numbers and types. Shows seen at www.AOL.com will also be available to XM’s 4.4 million subscribers — live and through rebroadcasts — on XM’s existing satellite radio channels.

Network Live will also try to license programming for distribution on wireless, HDTV and other platforms, though AOL said no deals have been struck yet.

Much of the programming will come from arenas owned by and concerts produced by AEG, which owns or controls the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA, the Nokia Theatre at Grand Prairie, TX, and the Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester, England.

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