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America Online has launched a preview of a streaming online video service designed for its 36 million Instant Messenger users.
The service, called AIM Video, will deliver content through six news and entertainment channels. It will feature music videos, movie trailers, entertainment news, celebrity interviews and sports highlights. It will also offer original comedy, news and features from AOL Television.
AOL began beta testing the product today, but has not set a timetable for a launch date. The new streaming video system is part of AOL's ongoing push to boost ad sales, through clickable video ads, and differentiate its instant messaging product from the growing number of similar services.
Last week, the ISP announced it planned to reorganize around four business units -- Access, Audience, Digital Services and AOL Europe -- to improve decision-making. The Audience unit is slated to oversee instant messaging projects.
The company partnered with film studios, record companies and television networks to provide Internet users, including its 36 million active AIM users, with the service. Viewers can watch one 30-second advertisement per channel through an implementation of the "out of banner" video format.
Currently AIM Video offers 12 clips of quality streaming video content in six channels, including "What's New," "Music," "Movies & TV," "News & Money," "Lifestyles" and "Sports."
A "Send to a Buddy" feature lets viewers send video links to other users via the AIM service.