Miller, funding for Next New Nets

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Former AOL chairman and CEO Jonathan Miller will join Herb Scannell's new-media company Next New Networks, and the company will receive backing from Saban Capital Group, Benchmark Capital Europe and the Pilot Group, it was to be announced today.

The company, a collection of niche Internet sites focusing on video, will go live today with five networks — including the animated Channel Frederator site, two car sites and a DIY fashion network — with the goal of creating 101 micronetworks during the next five years.

The formation of Next New Networks was announced in early January. Benchmark, Saban and Pilot, headed by former AOL president Robert Pittman, will join Spark Capital in an initial $8 million investment in the site.

Miller, who left AOL in November, joins a board of directors that includes Fred Seibert, the original creative director of MTV; Emil Rensing, an original member of AOL Greenhouse; and former Sundance Group and Turner Broadcasting executive Jed Simmons.

"Jon encouraged the idea that there's a place in the world for niche networks," Scannell said. "He has a great strategic vision for the future."

Scannell, a former MTV Networks vice chairman, said he also looks forward to working with Haim Saban — the chairman and CEO of Saban Capital Group who is part of the investment group that is buying Univision — in his first new-media investment. Scannell said Saban will be a "strategic adviser" and that he has opened the possibility of expanding Next New Networks into the Latin space.

Next New Networks sites will feature daily or weekly three- to eight-minute shows that will be archived and also posted on iTunes, MyYahoo! and YouTube. Scannell said the business model is to "aggregate our viewership and sell advertising vertically."

"We are platform indifferent," Scannell said. "We want to be all the places users are."

In addition to Channel Frederator, car enthusiast sites Fast Lane Daily and VOD Cars and fashion network Threadbanger, the company also has launched PulpSecret, a portal devoted to comic book culture. In April, they will launch Veracifier, a political commentary site, and Scannell said he plans to add more car networks and fashion sites. Plus, he has "pets on the radar," he said.
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