Bait & switch: AOL buries news of FanHouse wipeout in “partnership” PR blast

AOL called a last-minute press conference call today, with a companion press release innocuously announcing that AOL is inking content partnerships with Sporting News, Everyday Health and real-estate site Move, Inc.

Snoozefest, we thought. I was halfway out the door when Stacy noted a few interesting tidbits from Business Insider’s liveblog of the call. About 15 minutes into the call, it became clear that some AOL staffers are getting whacked.

"4:45: There is a group of people that could be affected" [AOL sporting site FanHouse] 

A question at 4:46: “What is the cost savings? A couple dozen jobs lost at a high end.”

Translation: AOL is basically giving up on producing original content in its sports, health care and real estate verticals. It will instead rely on outside providers and act as a portal, steering traffic their way. Sports Business Daily says Sporting News is expected to hire away a handful of AOL’s sports columnists. The FanHouse brand will live on, but it’ll be produced by Sporting News under a license — not by AOL’s staff. 

How many jobs are getting cut? We have calls in to AOL and will update when we hear back.

This follows last week’s move to dissolve two other AOL content properties, men’s site Asylum and the women’s site Lemondrop. 

The big question: What does this portend for AOL’s marquee verticals? It has invested millions in its finance, tech and politics sites, hiring star writers and acquiring hot brands

As we hear from CEO Tim Armstrong all the time, AOL’s reinvention plan is to become a content company.

Seems the company has decided not all content is worth the investment. -Julianne

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