AOL to Offer Free Content

Posted on June 9, 2005

AOL is removing the "walled garden" approach to its huge collection of Time Warner content. Until now Time Warner has been reluctant to give away much content for free and only AOL subscribers were able to access some content from Time Warner's magazines. A BusinessWeek story says that's all about to change:
Time Warner (TWX ) has decided that it's go-for-broke time at AOL, as the beleaguered online division launches a last-ditch gamble for survival. To generate growth even as its Internet service loses subscribers, the online company is launching one of the most radical strategic shifts in years -- throwing open its content for free in a bid to cash in on a gusher of online-ad revenues.
According to the BusinessWeek article the AOL relaunch will occur in July.
The refurbished aol.com is taking a different approach than the other big portals, such as Yahoo! (YHOO ) and Microsoft's (MSFT ) MSN, which hit their stride before broadband usage took off. AOL's site, to launch in July, will put streaming video and audio content front and center -- including exclusive live concerts, celebrity interviews, and film shorts.
AOL's strategy should help drive more traffic to the aol.com website. Bloggers frequently link to free content. Some newspapers like the New York Times even set up specific links so bloggers can link to them. However, AOL will have to hope its email, communication and security features keep AOL subscribers from leaving for free web services and content.