After a series of bad moves by AOL in the past few months (a lack of innovation – and a lot of cloning), this one's finally looking good. AOL today (infact, just a couple of hours ago) launched AOL Video, what I would call a mashing-together of everything video AOL's done in the past (AOL Uncut – YouTube clone, AOL Video Search – Truveo acquisition), with the sensible addition of iTunes-style-TV-shows-for-sale for $1.99.
One of the first things you'll notice on their homepage is that they're interface is nicely done to blend in quite a few things together. This is some innovation on AOL's side, and I'll give them credit for it. Across the top is their search function acquired from Truveo which enables you to search across the web for videos — from YouTube to Disney. A nice implementation, and I'm very glad that they've chosen to do this rather than close it all off and try to be "the one," like most of their other products.
AOL Video, after that, is pretty much divided into two sections. 'Uncut video' (AOL Uncut, now part of AOL Video) which is AOL's traditional YouTube clone where everything is free and users can upload their own videos, and AOL's newly introduced Video On Demand, where viewers can buy everything from South Park to Wonder Woman, for a measly $1.99 per episode. Something to note, however, is that AOL currently only offers old episodes (Season 3 and below for South Park for example, when it's currently at Season 10) unlike something like the iTunes store where you can literally buy an episode a day after it airs.
A neat thing I found about AOL Video is the Playlist function. If you're an AOL user, you can line up programs and create playlists of your own — this is much much better than YouTube's same sloppy function, and it's good to see there's at least some one who's getting it right.
In the end, I think AOL Video is a nice product, something we haven't seen from AOL for a long time. It's got some innovation, a lot of implementation, and a neat interface. Although with their current offerings, it's a bit hard to say where they might end up.