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Interactive play

AOL TW taps cable vet Collins to lead unit

In an effort to mass-market interactive television and video-on-demand services to consumers, AOL Time Warner has named Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Joseph Collins topper of its newly formed Interactive Video division.

Glenn Britt, prexy of Time Warner Cable since 1999, will take the reins from Collins. He will report to AOL Time Warner co-chief operating officer Bob Pittman. Tom Rutledge, senior executive veep of Time Warner Cable, will become prexy.

Additionally, James Chiddix has been tapped prexy of the new division’s Interactive Personal Video Group, reporting to Collins. Chiddix was senior veep, engineering and technology, and chief technology officer at Time Warner Cable.

AOL Time Warner said the new Interactive Video arm will focus on accelerating the growth of interactive television and advanced cable services for mass-market consumers, including video-on-demand, subscription VOD, cable telephony and other advanced services.

Collins will be responsible for coordinating companywide interactive video initiatives, leveraging the expertise and resources of all AOL Time Warner divisions, including Internet service providers.

Networking units

The new division will work closely with Time Warner Cable and America Online to accelerate the delivery of these services over Time Warner Cable’s systems as well as other broadband services.

Collins led Time Warner Cable’s conversion to broadband. He will now report to AOL Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin. Collins also previously served as chairman-CEO of Time Inc.’s cabler American Television and Communications Corp., one of the two entities that joined to form Time Warner Cable. He was also prexy of HBO.

“The creation of new interactive consumer businesses was one of the top reasons we put our merger together. We are using the full range of our assets to turn the promise of interactive video into a reality,” Levin said. “The cable industry is at a critical inflection point with an exciting array of digital and interactive services now at hand. By focusing our company’s combined resources behind this enormous opportunity, we will bring new interactive video services to mass-market consumers faster than any other company in the world.”

Net service AOL, with over 30 million subscribers, and Time Warner Cable, which has 2.5 million digital cable subs and 1.4 million Road Runner cable modem subs, have already been working together to promote a number of value-added interactive video products.

Time Warner Cable has been testing HBO subscription VOD and other such services in South Carolina, Texas, Florida and Hawaii. Later this year, AOL Online will roll out an enhanced version of its AOL TV service through Samsung-built digital cable set-top boxes.

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