RealTime IT News

Schuler Taps New Line Television President For AOLTV

AOL Time Warner Thursday tapped longtime TV executive Robert Friedman as president of AOLTV, a move company officials hope will jumpstart the fledgling interactive service.

In this newly-created position, Friedman reports to Barry Schuler, AOLTV chairman and chief executive officer, and is charged with setting strategic direction and overseeing daily operations.

Launched just last fall, AOLTV and other set top ventures have met with a tepid response from consumers, a fact many attribute to the decline in PC prices.

But Friedman expects the inherent marketing and advertising potential in the set top box to bear itself out in the long run, as customers get used to the idea of interactive TV.

"AOLTV holds enormous promise to revolutionize TV -- not only for consumers but for programmers and advertisers as well," Friedman said. "Working with AOL as a partner while I was at New Line Cinema, I learned first-hand about the kinds of valuable opportunities the company can create with innovative, transformational marketing programs."

AOLTV was touted as the low-price alternative to pricey home computers, and offered email, interactive TV, instant messaging and access to chat rooms for a price of $249 (including receiver, remote and keyboard) and a monthly fee of $24.95.

But the fallout in the high-tech community has dropped the prices of computers made by popular manufacturers like Dell and Gateway, making adoption to the set top box marginal.

Officials declined to release the number of AOLTV subscribers.

Friedman, a traditional media hawk in a new media position, is expected to handle the transition well. Handpicked by Schuler, he comes from the cutting edge of programming, with stints at MTV Networks, VH-1 and Nickelodeon.

He moved to AOLTV from his former position as co-chairman of New Line Cinema worldwide theatrical marketing and president of New Line Television.

New Line is a subsidiary of AOL Time Warner.

With his understanding of the media and entertainment industries, long experience in working closely with the key media divisions of AOL Time Warner, and proven understanding of what consumers want, Bob Friedman is a great choice to build the next generation of interactive entertainment," Schuler said.