Huffington Post 24-Hour Digital Network Likely to Join Verizon Wireless OTT Service

AOL unit also to launch film and TV divisions

Arianna Huffington
Mike Pont/WireImage

AOL’s Huffington Post news-aggregation site, in an effort to boost its HuffPost Live programming, plans to launch a 24-hour streaming network in the second half of 2015 — which is very likely to be part of Verizon Wireless’ forthcoming over-the-top subscription-video service.

HuffPost also is launching film and TV divisions, with HuffPost Films planning to produce, acquire, license and distribute feature films and HuffPost TV to develop and produce TV-style programming.

The digital network, HuffPost 24, appears to be aimed at juicing up the HuffPost Live daily six-hour block of live talk shows and other news coverage, which sources say has not been delivering the audiences the company has expected. “We’re adding 16 hours to what we already have (with HuffPost Live),” a HuffPost rep said.

The new efforts — announced by co-founder Arianna Huffington to staff Thursday — come after Verizon Communications completed its $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL, parent company of HuffPost, earlier this week. AOL has claimed it has no plans to divest any of its content brands, despite reports that HuffPost has been shopped around to multiple potential buyers.

Now that AOL and HuffPost are under Verizon’s wing, the HuffPost 24 live service will almost definitely be part of the new Verizon Wireless OTT service, slated to launch in the second half of 2015, according to a person familiar with the situation.

HuffPost 24 will feature an around-the-clock live stream of programming, like a cable channel, and will include not only HuffPost Live but also short- and longform video, documentaries and other content.

Nathan Brown, g.m. of video for Huffington Post, will oversee HuffPost 24, HuffPost Films and HuffPost TV. The company also said it plans to hire more staff in its video division with the new initiatives.

Programming on HuffPost 24 will include HuffPost original series and daily news, as well as AOL content. In addition, video from YouTube stars and other social-media influencers will be in the mix, including content from Outspeak, the online network geared around YouTube creators that HuffPost is launching with RTL Group’s multichannel network BroadbandTV.

The company said it will use video staff in its 13 international offices to produce content for the channel. Content will be streamed on the HuffPost website and its apps, and distributed across third-party platforms and networks.