AOL is making over its broadband comedy channel as a partnership with corporate cousin HBO. The former "AOL Comedy" will be relaunched in first quarter, 2007, as "This Just In," a current events-focused humor site. AOL is looking to replicate the success it has had recently with TMZ.com, the celebrity news website it launched last year with sister company Telepictures.
HBO-branded "This Just In" will likely feature original content, rather than clips or episodes of series that have run on the pay cable network and will be used in part by the network to incubate new talent. HBO is announcing the site as it is in the midst of co-sponsoring The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, which runs through Nov. 18.
The site will be headed by Steve Stanford, who founded and was CEO of Icebox.com, a before-its-time humor website that created comedy programming with TV writers, and co-founded and was COO of cell phone service Ampd Mobile.
HBO has been very selective in its digital distribution strategy to date in an effort to uphold its subscription-based business model and not damage its profitable DVD and international sales businesses.