AOL’s Patch Plans Big New York Expansion


AOL-owned hyper-local firm Patch Media is making a big push into New York state, with the launch of 11 sites in Long Island and Westchester County over the next three months; the expansion will nearly double the size of the hyper-local network, which already is the largest network of its kind online. New sites are planned for a long list of communities, including Scarsdale and Rye (See the full list here). And Patch says it will also launch six additional sites in New Jersey and Connecticut. In a release, Patch President Warren Webster emphasizes that Patch makes its coverage available for free, “at a time when more and more outlets are charging for online content.” That’s likely a commentary on Long Island newspaper giant Newsday, which said this week that it would put most of its content behind a paywall starting Wednesday.

AOL (NYSE: TWX) purchased Patch Media in June for about $7 million in cash from investors including AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who owned about 75 percent of the company. At the time, the startup had five hyperlocal sites in its network. Since then, AOL has launched three additional sites, with two additional ones set to go live this week. AOL has said local will be a “core area of focus and investment.” Rivals Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and MSN have also launched their own local initiatives.

This expansion wave should bring Patch’s network to 30 sites — each staffed by a full-time editor — although even more are likely to come soon. An AOL SEC filing shows that the company has already purchased Patch domains for a number of Northeastern communities where it does not currently have operations.


Hyperlocal veteran

I've seen this movie before. Sidewalk, AOL's own Digital Cities, BackFence, PlumTV. These guys haven't even proven they can make one community economically sustainable and they are expanding. They all go gangbusters and then lay people off, cut back on content, etc. after they relearn the same lesson learned many times over.

Paul Baron

Local readership for items, events, and advertising that creates loyalty, genuine local stakeholders combine to create the business model that Patch, AOL, others should explore more closely. warrants such attention and we invite cooperation with these efforts.

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