Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

BermanBraun to Launch Three Non-HuffPost Sites — Including Weather — for AOL

In a deal that was struck some time ago and is close to fruition, BermanBraun is prepping three major Web properties for AOL that will focus on pets, men and, interestingly, the weather.

After I inquired, AOL confirmed that the Hollywood production company — headed by former Yahoo and ABC exec Lloyd Braun and former Paramount exec Gail Berman — will debut the trio of sites around March. The new sites will use rich features and a slick design to attract premium advertisers.

The pair will jointly sell the advertising, but the sites themselves will be operated by BermanBraun in cooperation with AOL’s media unit, the Huffington Post Media Group. The deal was struck in late 2010, before AOL bought the Huffington Post for $300 million in January of this year.

While AOL has partnered with many outside sites, this will be the most prominent one since that acquisition.

Since then, much of the new content development on AOL has been aimed at drastically increasing the number of sites with that brand. There have been more than two dozen of those since March.

In this case, the Huffington Post Media Group, run by Arianna Huffington, has typically either created new topic sites or relaunched old AOL ones.

This week, for example, the company rejiggered AOL TV as HuffPost TV, as well as announcing El Huffington Post, an international Spanish-language version of the Huffington Post that will debut in early 2012, in partnership with El País.

The BermanBraun effort, though, is more independent and large-scale. It will feature extensive video and heavy use of imagery. Huffington Post will be involved in editorial selection, and has been working closely with the firm on incorporating social elements.

“It’s been a very dynamic and collaborative partnership — we’ve worked together on everything from design to picking the editors,” said Roy Sekoff, founding editor of the Huffington Post Media Group, about the arrangement. “BermanBraun brings a distinctive approach to their sites, and we’ve helped infuse that with our focus on real-time, social, and building community.”

Sekoff declined to give more details, such as the names of the sites. (They won’t be HuffPost Pets, HuffPost Weather and HuffPost Dudes, though!)

Pets could be a strong category if done in a new way, especially if designed with new tablet devices in mind. And weather, to my mind, is a sleeper category if reimagined freshly.

BermanBraun — which also develops television shows and movies — has a lot of experience in the online content arena. It has previously created Web sites for Microsoft’s MSN unit, including the high-profile celebrity site Wonderwall.

It will be interesting to see how the collaboration turns out. In the meantime, here’s my favorite weather song — Lena Horne rules! — to enjoy until the three sites launch:

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work