Some Thoughts About the AOL-HuffPost Merger

Obviously, the big news yesterday was the surprise announcement that The Huffington Post is merging with AOL. Because nothing else of note happened yesterday.

The announcement was formally made on The Huffington Post yesterday by site founder Arianna Huffington. AOL owns Engadget, TechCrunch, Moviefone, MapQuest, Popeater, etc. Huffington will now be the editor-in-chief of all these sites.

This is the second media merger to take place this year, after Comcast’s final acquisition of NBC a few weeks ago. A move that was, ironically, criticized heavily by HuffPo bloggers.

In fact, here are some small selections from previous HuffPo articles on the NBC-Comcast merger that are pretty ironic in hindsight:

  • “A combined Comcast and NBC would instantly become a telecommunications colossus, wielding unprecedented influence over the news and entertainment we see and the price we pay for it.” (11/30/10)
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders: “At a time when a small number of giant media corporations already control what the American people see, hear, and read, we do not need another conglomerate with more control over the production and distribution of news and other programming. What we need is less concentration of ownership, more diversity, more local ownership, and more viewpoints.” (12/6/10)
  • Preventing the merger was “the last obstacle to the unprecedented consolidation of media and Internet power in the hands of one company. (1/18/11)
  • “The FCC’s blessing of Comcast and NBC will embolden companies like AT&T or Verizon to try to merger with content providers such as Disney or CBS, launching a virtual “arms race” of media consolidation where a handful of companies fight for greater control of the content you watch and all the ways you watch it.” (1/19/11)

Merger watchers will remember AOL tried to become part of a media empire once before with Time Warner in 2000. Well, that didn’t necessarily work out too well. So this merger is really for AOL’s benefit rather than HuffPost’s.

Think about it. Who cares about AOL anymore? Sure, it was big in the 90s, but now there are other, better avenues to connect to the internet and check your e-mail. I still have and use an AOL e-mail account, but it’s really not a big deal.

The reaction from many HuffPost commenters has been somewhat mixed. Some are keeping an open mind about the merger, while others are going the “my favorite indie band is selling out so they’re dead to me” route.

We’ll have more on the deal on the show very soon.