AEG In On Network Live

Live and on-demand concerts and comedy shows will serve as the foundation of a new America Online Inc.-backed joint venture announced Tuesday for delivering entertainment via the Internet, satellite, wireless and other platforms.

The formation of the company, Network Live, follows AOL’s success in delivering seven separate feeds from the July 2nd Live 8 concerts – all without any meltdowns common with early high-interest events online. Some 5 million people viewed the shows online, and AOL broke its own records with a peak of 175,000 simultaneous users.

Kevin Wall, who oversaw production of the Live 8 video broadcasts for AOL and other outlets worldwide, will serve as chief executive of the joint venture involving AOL, XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and Anschutz Corp.’s AEG unit, which owns sports and entertainment arenas and produces concerts and other shows.

“We’re creating the network of the future, being able to access entertainment digital content anytime, anywhere on any particular device,” Wall said.

Network Live is but the latest venture into online video programming.

Earlier Tuesday, CBS News announced it would offer a 24-hour news network over high-speed broadband lines, and Nickelodeon last week launched an on-demand service promising up to 20 hours of new programming for kids every week.

Companies are embracing online video as more than half of U.S. Internet users now have broadband connections at home and technology can deliver programming streams without the jerkiness and graininess typical early on.

AOL already offers free concerts and other video programs on the Internet, both live and on demand, and the new venture will expand on the numbers and types. Shows seen at will also be available to XM’s 4.4 million subscribers – live and through rebroadcasts – on XM’s existing satellite radio channels.

Network Live will also try to license programming for distribution on wireless, HDTV and other platforms, though AOL said no deals have been struck yet.

Revenues will come from ads and licensing fees, with no current plans to charge for shows on a pay-per-view basis, Wall said.

Officials did not disclose other financial terms, besides saying all three companies and Wall have equity stakes.

Much of the programming will come from arenas owned by and concerts produced by AEG, which owns or controls the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., the NOKIA Theatre at Grand Prairie, Texas, and the SMG-managed Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester, England.

Timothy J. Leiweke, AEG’s chief executive, said his company is retrofitting venues and upgrading plans for yet-to-be-built facilities in Los Angeles, New York and London to accommodate digital and high-definition feeds. XM chief executive Hugh Panero said his company also was retrofitting its studios with a robotic camera.

— Associated Press