An article in the Wall Street Journal takes a look at AOL’s troubled Patch. While traffic is up at some of the major Patch sites, so are the losses. The AOL division is reducing paid staffers and freelancers and starting to rely more on user-generated content.
According to the WSJ:
[M]ore than a third of Patch’s content now is generated by users uploading announcements, photos and other content, helping Patch shrink its budget for freelancers.
In other words, Patch is evolving into Examiner.com. The company is also starting to syndicate or distribute more content to third parties.
I suspect we’ll see the majority of content on Patch become user-generated over the next year or so. That is, to the extent that Patch survives. Some AOL shareholders would like to see it completely shut down or spun out as part of a joint venture where a partner shares costs.
I suspect the latter is more likely than a complete closure of the site in the near term. This is Tim Armstrong’s baby.
As I argued last year, making Patch into a local news destination is a long-term undertaking that major investors can’t stomach.