Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pre-Nuptial Talks Continue

Decisions, Decisions. It's late Monday night and I'm still trying to decide the subject of tomorrow's blog. Usually I know by lunchtime what I'll be blogging about for the next day.

The problem isn't that there isn't anything to talk about; it's that there's so much to choose from. I feel the way I do when I visit a mall--sensory overload. Too much to see and hear at one time.

Okay, because it's late and because I talked about this last night, I'm going to stay on the subject of Time Warner's effort to find a "partner" for AOL. As I reported in "It May Be Time For AOL To Make Up Its Mind," all eyes are on Time Warner this week, waiting to learn the name of the groom they've selected for their AOL subsidiary.

So, what kind of a dowery does the AOL bride bring her prospective suitors, Microsoft and Google? Primarily two things: an ever-shrinking but still respectable list of dial-up subscribers and a sparkling array of Web properties (including aol.com, AIM and Mapquest) which draw an estimated 112 million monthly visitors. For Google whose revenue has always been primarily from ad revenue and increasingly for Microsoft, which is trying to shift to generating ad revenue, the AOL Web properties are a powerful inducement.

But wait! Like the Popeil pocket fisherman ads, there's more. Today AOL's parent, Time Warner, announced "plans to stream episodes from Warner Brothers television programs free on the Internet" according to Internetnews.com.

The New York Times reported that "Warner Brothers is preparing a major new Internet service that will let fans watch full episodes from more than 100 old television series. The service, called In2TV, will be free, supported by advertising, and will start early next year. More than 4,800 episodes will be made available online in the first year." AOL will distribute the service on its Web portal.

Remember, both Warner Brothers and AOL are Time Warner divisions.

Gosh, do you think it's an accident that Time Warner announced this great new addition to AOL's stable of Web properties in the very week they are trying to nail down the terms of the pre-nuptial with the would-be suitors? My guess is that they're at the valuation-of-assets stage and Time Warner has just sweetened the deal.

I may be wrong, but this makes me wonder if Microsoft isn't ahead in the marriage sweepstakes.

Stay tuned for more . . .

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