The thing about web video is that's it's not just 'web' any more.
And AOL proved that they know that with a smart presentation that married the "show" and the "business" with a number of big ticket surprises.
First, let's start with this year's NewFront location. It was the 54th floor of 4 World Trade -- space that was raw, and real, and with jaw-dropping views of the Hudson River and 1 World Trade.
AOL has shifted to a "Content 365" strategy, launching new shows all year long. This year's video programming ranges from sharable short form content, to long-form programming (shows) - available on all screens from smartphones and tablets, to desktop, TV and over-the-top (OTT).
As the sun went down, the crowd was treated to what one of my friends happily called "sunset porn" and indeed it was.
Once inside, the event was a dazzling video wall of images, words, and sound. Powerful and convincing. And as CEO Tim Armstrong made the point - AOL has been driving hard to build a company of Culture and Code. "We have spent the last five years investing in original video and building one of the most scaled video platforms in the world." And AOL marketers knew that - putting the AOL NewFront branding on the windows, making a powerful statement - and great pictures for the smartphone wielding crowd.
AOL announced new video programming and formats across its media properties, including MAKERS, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, Cambio, and AOL.com, as well as new AOL Originals on its video hub, AOL On.
Steve Buscemi, Ryan Duffy, James Franco, Kevin Jonas, Sarah Lane, Jared Leto, Marcus Peters, Michael Rapaport, Deion Sanders, Kevin White, and Leonard Williams.
"We are embarking on a whole new era of digital content," said AOL's President of Video and Studios Dermot McCormack. "With our 2015 NewFront line-up of original video content made to fit multiple screens and formats, we are reimagining the definition of original programming and setting the vision for the content industry's future, which we believe to be the very best of what TV does combined with the mobility, interactivity and openness of the internet. Content is still king but it's the kingdom that is changing."'
Arianna Huffington announced "Now What with Ryan Duffy" Former VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy is taking on a new mission to put a spotlight on what's working around the world and telling the stories of people working toward solutions to our many crises.
But the biggest surprise of the evening came at the end when Bob Lord, the president of AOL - announced a game-changing partnership with NBC. "We're trying to break down the silos between linear and digital," said Lord. "You have to have an open ecosystem."
NBCU Ad Sales and Client Partnerships Chairman Linda Yaccarino explained "our networks create some of the biggest water cooler conversations and strongest brand connections in the industry and we are excited to bring them to AOL, a leader in the digital space."
Steven Rosenbaum is serial entrepreneur, author, and filmmaker. His latest book, Curate This! is in print and ebook on Amazon.com. He is the CEO of Waywire.com (enterprise.waywire.com)