Eisner’s Vuguru, AOL Announce Original Video Content Deal

Ex-Disney head’s digital studio to produce six scripted video series for portal

Michael Eisner’s Vuguru and AOL announced a deal on Wednesday for the digital studio to produce a half-dozen scripted video series that will be distributed by the portal.

Vuguru will “develop and produce a minimum of six high-quality, scripted video series over the next year,” with AOL as its U.S. launch partner.

“The Internet’s next growth phase will be powered by professional, high-quality, story-driven content,” Eisner said in announcing the pact, “and the key to success is delivering that content to as many users as possible.”

With "production values that far exceed the production costs, the six shows will set a new bar for original online entertainment,” AOL said in a release. Terms were not disclosed.

The deal is part of AOL chief Tim Armstrong’s push to remake AOL as an original content powerhouse from its formative years as a dial-up service — and original Web video is part of the plan.

“Until now, there’s been a gap in the online video consumer experience between user-generated video and the high production values of TV and film,” Armstrong added.

Vuguru said each series “will be produced as a continuous story of approximately 90 minutes in length with cliffhangers or natural breaks so that they can be segmented for episodic distribution.” The shows “will be professionally written and produced and feature talent consistent with the caliber of Vuguru and AOL.”

For its part, AOL has shown that it is serious about the future of video on the Web. AOL acquired 5Min Media in September in a $50 million-plus deal. In January, AOL bought StudioNow, another online video platform, for $36.5 million.

Last week, AOL reported the first increase in quarterly profit since its spin-off from Time Warner last year.