Eyeing home entertainment market, AOL launches Asylum

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Looking to capture a piece of the lucrative online home entertainment market, AOL Studios today debuts Entertainment Asylum, marking the first simultaneous launch on America Online and the Web.

The new site or AOL keyword asylum also has anchor spots on AOL's Entertainment Channel, aol.com, Excite, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0 and Netcaster. Entertainment Asylum is divided into three main content areas--movies, TV and celebrities--which are further divided into genre areas of action, science fiction, comedy, drama and horror.


Advertisers already signed on include Columbia House Records with a two-year deal; Columbia Tri-Star Pictures' new movie "Starship Troopers"; Godiva Chocolatiers; and FreeShop International.

Advertising costs will be based on a cost per thousand model that ranges from $60 to $100, although the Asylum creators plan to go beyond simple banners and buttons to integrate advertising with content in more creative ways. For instance, with "Starship Troopers" the online personalities, called the Screen Team, will dress in garb from the movie as they interview movie stars.


Entertainment Asylum President of Programming Scott Zakarin envisions other off-the-cuff ideas--such as a make-up sponsor for Oscar night during backstage preparations, or a mouthwash sponsor for a kiss by the Screen Team members.

"We see Hollywood looking at this in much the same way record companies looked at MTV in the early days," said Ted Leonsis, president-CEO of AOL Studios. "Hollywood knows the new wired generation essentially are people who are spenders and who also tend to be early adopters."


AOL Studios is using the entertainment genre categories to create an ad model that can deliver a specific demographic of consumers to advertisers.

For example, science fiction aficionados skew more male and technical than do drama or comedy fans. Using the different demographics, AOL Studios can target ads to consumers.

Columbia House Records will launch under the action genre category, which attracts young males prone to frequent blockbuster films, a demographic that carries well internationally.


The music seller also will be involved, along with other advertisers, in the shopping mall planned for Entertainment Asylum; the mall will use a transaction fee model to generate revenue for AOL Studios.

AOL Studios' aggressive plans include reaching 1 million page views per day within 100 days, Mr. Leonsis said.

Copyright October 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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