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AOL Video to Launch Aug. 4

Offering both paid and free downloads of TV shows, AOL plans to launch its most ambitious video venture yet this week.

Its new AOL Video portal -- which the company plans to detail Monday and launch Aug. 4 -- will contain content from MTV Networks, A&E Television Networks and other cable programmers, in addition to free, ad-supported content.

The Web site (www.aolvideo.com) is AOL’s first foray into the paid-download business, which is currently dominated by Apple Computer’s iTunes Music Store. Like iTunes, AOL said it will charge $1.99 per episode for full-length Comedy Central series including Chappelle’s Show, South Park and Mind of Mencia; Nickeolodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants and Zoey 101; MTV’s Laguna Beach and Punk’d; and other series.

MTVN’s entire stable of cable networks is supplying content for the venture, as are A&E’s flagship network, Biography Channel and The History Channel. The A&E content, including Dog the Bounty Hunter, is also priced at $1.99 per episode.

AOL described the AOL Video portal launching later this week as a “beta” version. The company said the video content will be run from an on-screen interactive program guide that will include more than 45 video-on-demand channels, including paid content and free content from TNT and TBS, such as TNT original movies, and other free content from both television and Web producers.

Syndicated shows from Turner such as TBS’ Seinfeld are not included in the offering.

AOL said it will also add a new video search engine to the portal, which will deliver search results from Web sites such as YouTube.com, Yahoo!, Google Video, iFilm and AtomFilms.

Finally, AOL -- which announced a joint venture with Intel to distribute video delivered from PCs on televisions -- said it will soon launch a new “10-foot experience” with Intel, which will allow PC owners to view AOL and other video content on large-screen TVs and other devices.