HBO, AOL Site Nets Laughs

The family that laughs together stays together. HBO and sister company AOL are joining forces to create an ad-supported broadband comedy Web site called This Just In, which is set to launch in the first quarter of next year.

This Just In will reflect the broad range of comedy the premium channel is known for, including cutting-edge social commentary, urban comedy and the most current new comedic voices. Leveraging AOL's position in online video and Web programming, the site will feature extensive video content, as well as a weblog that will enable users to tap into the day's events as they are happening.

While taking another step into the multiplatform arena — the pay TV leader also has content deals with iTunes and Cingular Wireless — the joint ventures marks the first time advertisers will have the opportunity to associate their brands with an HBO property.

The new venture between the Time Warner Inc. properties will replace the existing AOL Comedy channel, already one of the leading comedy destinations on the Web.

This Just In, which also will serve as an incubator for new programming for other HBO outlets, is headed by Steve Stanford, the founder and CEO of Icebox, an early Internet comedy site that created programming with many top TV writers. Sanford also was a cofounder and chief operating officer of edgy content-driven cellphone service Amp'd Mobile.

“This is about creating a new kind of entertainment experience that couldn't exist in a noninteractive medium,” Stanford said in a statement. “We will be trying new things and taking risks in the process of developing great Internet comedy.”

AOL Media Networks will represent This Just In, offering advertisers the opportunity to tie their brands to an HBO vehicle — the site will be clearly identified as “powered by HBO.”

In addition to traditional ad units, the venture will work closely with advertisers to create programming that incorporates marketing messages. AOL will support the site with all of the tools and technologies of its content-publishing, video and social-networking platforms as it has with, the successful entertainment-news Web site it launched last year with sister company Telepictures.