"Sessions @ AOL sponsored by American Express" debuts on Oct. 1 and will run through the fourth quarter with a diverse lineup that includes Christina Aguilera, Faith Hill and Yo Yo Ma. AOL and American Express declined to specify the financial terms of the deal. AOL parent AOL Time Warner and individual divisions of the company also have deals with American Express.
American Express will use the sponsorship to promote four new membership rewards charge cards that consumers can use to earn points when purchasing goods such as groceries, gas and stamps.
Sessions @ AOL is a weekly half-hour program with interviews, on-location and in-studio performances; the feature also comes with a bi-weekly Sessions @ AOL Highlights show for high-speed Internet users. Since its June launch, Sessions has streamed more than 1 million artist interviews and performances
Artists who have appeared on the half-hour weekly show include Avril Lavigne, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and P. Diddy. Videos, interviews, exclusive concert footage and backstage access are all part of the drive by AOL Music to showcase premium content similar to what a cable TV channel offers. Eventually, such content could be offered on a pay basis, particularly on AOL's high-speed service. Currently, Sessions is offered for free.
Sessions is considered a model for future content franchises on the AOL service.
Leveraging a bond
"Franchise programming that's sponsorable and that is capable of deep integration within AOL and within the AOL Time Warner assets is a powerful initiative," said Bob Sherman, president-AOL Interactive Marketing. "The bond between music, marketers and consumers is leveragable from our AOL space."
As part of the deal, AmEx will sponsor an online local guide that offers consumers entertainment listings for their area.