AOL deal spells UK opportunities

The £97.7bn merger between Internet giant America Online and media group Time Warner to form a £220bn digital media group, could create opportunities for consultancies in the UK.

The world’s biggest ever merger deal, giving AOL a controlling stake in AOL Time Warner, elevates on-line content and design to premium status.

According to former Sunbather and Razorfish creative director Mike Bennett, the time is ripe for UK consultancies to focus on content development and entertainment diversification.

“Content becomes the key differentiator,” he says.

Bennett anticipates that the newly-merged group will make big inroads into the international broadband content on-line.

Hyperinteractive creative director Richard Mellor adds: “The immediate impact of the merger is on real time video streaming, which has been around for a while. The thing is that there hasn’t been much content for it until now.”

The future domination of content provision by corporate groups like AOL Time Warner and Microsoft could threaten the interest of smaller groups.

AOL already hints that it has designs on Europe. “It is truly a win-win for AOL Europe and it translates to even more significant content, resources and a clear commitment to grow our market leadership throughout Europe,” says AOL Europe president and chief executive officer Andreas Schmidt.

AOL currently provides Internet access to more than 20 million people worldwide, while Time Warner’s portfolio includes the CNN television news channel, Warner Bros film studios, Time magazine and record company Warner Music.

AOL Europe is owned equally by America Online and German media giant Bertelsmann.

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