AOL's new studio in New York shows Verizon's ambitious media plans

AOL’s BUILD studio in New York City.
Source: AOL

Verizon's AOL is doubling down on video with a new studio in New York City.

The 13,412-square foot production facility, called Build Studio, formally opened on Thursday and includes a street-level main stage area and four other film-ready areas set up for livestreamed, multi-camera content.

"We treat this like a live broadcast entity," said Suzanne Lindbergh, executive producer of Build Studio.

AOL hopes to livestream more than 75 events, like concerts and interviews per month, with about 4 hours of live content each day.

"It blurs what a web series should look like versus what broadcast should look like," Lindbergh said.

Though primarily dedicated to the AOL Build series — a live interview show that features actors, musicians and other celebrities — the studio will be available for use for AOL properties like Huffington Post, as well as Verizon shows on its streaming network go90. Build's segments are also available as on-demand content on platforms like Fios1 Network and Google Play, and some episodes will appear on the Sony PlayStation Network and NYC Life Channel 25, the official broadcast network of New York City.

In addition, the studio has several areas ready for branded content opportunities,at a time when consumer complaints about "ad fatigue" are continuing to increase. For example, the downstairs lounge area features prominent background bar that can serve branded cocktails, said Jesse Chambers, vp of monetization for AOL's iBrands.

"We talk about the space being a physical and digital cultural experience," said Chambers. "It's not only a unique experience for consumers. It opens up the opportunity to work with partner brands to build their brands."

Kat Graham performs on stage at the new BUILD Studio opening on January 12, 2017 in New York City.
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Verizon has been making a push to become a media and advertising powerhouse, especially through its acquisition of AOL, and pending acquisition of Yahoo.

"All of this is towards a bigger plan of building out a diversified media company," said Brian Angiolet, senior vice president of consumer products for Verizon, said to CNBC last May during the go90/AOL NewFront advertiser presentation. "Paid TV is not going to go away. There's going to be a segment of consumers who enjoy that. But there's also going to be an emerging segment who wants to interact differently and discover differently."

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