AEG has acquired streaming media management and production firm Incited Media as part of an effort to expand its services into the broadband Internet and mobile content space.
The company will merge Incited Media into its AEG Productions division, creating a new entity called AEG Digital Media. Michael Goldfine, formerly president of AEG Productions, will run the unit, with Incited Media executives Joe Einstein, Ben Rolling and John Petrocelli will all remain with the new unit in various capacities.
Incited Media was behind the Web streaming of such events as Live Earth and Live 8, as well as for the MTV Video Awards, the Grammy Awards and several other non music related events. The company's existing clients will remain under contract with AEG Digital Media.
The new unit will serve to stream events live over the Internet as well as archive footage for after-the-fact monetization on the Internet and mobile phones. If it sounds similar to the Network Live joint venture AEG was a part of with AOL before it became Control Room, that's because it is.
The difference, says Goldfine, is that AEG owns all the production facilities and technology needed to capture and digitally distribute live events, and as such retains all the profits.
"It's hard to quantify it, but we think there's a significant opportunity," he says. "We wouldn't have made this kind of commitment if we didn't think this is a real and relevant business unit."
AEG is also a much larger and well-established producer of concerts than Control Room. The new unit is available to any artist booking a tour through the company, as well as to one-off events that AEG doesn't produce itself. Petrocelli says he expects artists will grow increasingly interested in extracting more revenue out of live events as recorded music sales continue to falter.
"Artists are challenged to day to monetize their music given that the market has evolved to mass file sharing," he says. "One of their remaining opportunities to monetize is through performing. They can't perform on 200 simultaneous stages or perform 365 days of the year. So this is a real opportunity to monetize these live performances as they happen online and build in subscription, pay-per-view or sponsorship opportunities."
AEG Digital Media will operate out of a new $25 million production facility overlooking the L.A. Live venue adjacent to the Staples Center, but will film events taking place in any of its venues or other locations. While AEG venues like the O2 Theater and the Nokia Theater are fairly well wired already, Goldfine says the company is exploring outfitting its other facilities to better capture the action as well.
"We're definitely looking at that," he says. "We'll see where technology takes us, but absolutely."