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... news media properties to a company that had no commitment to news ... Net-only TV vignettes. Will bundle content at discount (e.g. ABC News and People mag) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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  • A Failure of Synergy?

Reasons for the Merger in 2000
  • Concentration of value
  • Value of merger 300bn when first announced,
    145-183 bn in Jan. 2000 and down to 96-106 when
    deal complete in Jan. 2001 (105bn in Apr. 2002)
  • Original combined annual revenues of 30 billion
  • AOL-TW became worlds fourth largest corp
  • (after Microsoft, General Electric and Cisco)
    and twice as big as nearest direct competitor,
  • AOL had high capital value but lower in revenues
    TW had lower capital value but higher in revenues

Reasons for Later Disappointment
  • Original value of deal way overpriced
  • AOL paid for TW with stock was to fall, so TW
    stockholders lost out badly
  • Growth now very slow
  • Many people who go high speed choose not to
    maintain AOL subscription

Attractions of Synergy (1)
  • Fusion
  • (1) old media with new media
  • (2) content (e.g. Time, CNN, Warner, HBO, Cartoon
    Network) with content delivery
  • (e.g. AOL, CompuServe, ICQ)
  • (3) clients (e.g. 26m AOL subs, 2.2m Compuserve,
    100m users of ACQ and AIM, 120m readers of Time
    Warners 33 mags, listeners to TWs 119m records,
    20m. cable subs, 206m audience for CNN and cable
    network programming.

Attractions of Synergy (2)
  • Economies of scale
  • deliver same media products to more outlets
  • deliver existing product over Internet
  • cross-promotion of TW media products through AOL
  • and AOL products through TW media
  • ease the selling of audiences to advertisers
  • create giant database of private information
  • provide more muscle for international expansion

Attractions of Synergy (3)
  • Innovation
  • create new media product and services for
    Internet delivery
  • facilitate online music revolution
  • accelerate race to high-speed service
  • would accelerate development of
    narrowcasting linking products with niche
    consumer demographic groups

Worries at the Time
  • High-speed delivery for full-length movies not
    yet matured
  • Most households not yet receiving high-speed
  • AOL did not have strong reputation for privacy
  • Subjugated reputable news media properties to a
    company that had no commitment to news
  • Concerns about open access for content providers
    to AOL-TW delivery systems
  • No benefits to general public competition would
    be weakened entry costs would be higher would
    push media more to popular culture content
  • Forcing own content down own distribution systems
    might not be good for business higher prices
    could be sought elsewhere

One Year Later (Apr. 2002)
  • Value of stock down by two-thirds
  • Significant downturn in advertising crippled AOL
  • High debt plus falling stock price made it
    difficult to do deals (e.g. with Comcast)
  • Market hostility to spin exaggerations that made
    performance look better than it was
  • Falling revenue leads to slash in European
    marketing company had to buy half of AOL Europe
    from Bertelsmann

One Year Later (2)
  • Potential loss of cable subs as partner Newhouse
    withdraws 2.3m cable subs from AOL partnership
  • Slowdown in new AOL clients, and loss of clients
    who move to other cable/telcom corps for
    high-speed service
  • Some big film hits (e.g. Lord of the Rings),
    boosted in part by AOL cross-promotions
  • Benefits of synergy reduced by continuing need to
    take content from other sources (customers resent
    exclusivity) and to distribute through other
    channels. Different divisions value editorial

Two Years Later
  • Debt at 27.5 bn
  • Selling off non-core assets to ease debt burden
    (e.g. Atlanta sports teams, TWs book publishing,
    50 stake in Comedy Central), but not all these
    may be easy to sell in poor market
  • Link with entertainment assets has been of little
    value to AOL, and TW does not need AOL

Two Years Later (2)
  • AOLs founder, Steve Chase, resigns as chairman
    of the group vice-chairman Ted Turner also to
  • Operating profit at AOL to fall from nearly 1.4
    bn in 2002 to under 800 m in 2003
  • Bitterness by TW towards AOL, but dumping AOL not
    easy because few buyers (many lawsuits against
  • Proposed deal with Chinas Legend put on ice too
    many ISPs in China right now
  • Reduced intra-company spend on advertising on its
    own cable systems

2003 and Onwards
  • AOL sees its 25million U.S. members begin to
    defect to cut-rate dial-up competitors and to
    broadband rivals in a price war.
  • Loses 846,000 subs April-June 20003 alone
  • Almost all its 9 bn revs come from narrowband
    subs who pay 23.90 monthly log on by phone
  • Customer base will fall 6, 2003, to 45 mn homes
    broadband homes to increase 40 to 25 mn. Only
    10 of this pop subscribe to AOL.
  • AOL broadband customers pay 14.95 on top of
    30-50 a month they pay to phone or cable.
    Competition (MSN, Yahoo) is cheaper.

2003 and Onwards (2)
  • AOL strategic response to competition is not to
    reduce prices, but improve content
  • In July AOL announces AOL 9.0
  • Billed as door-way to brand-new online content
  • Help subs tap into growing no. of TW music,
    video, mag content
  • Live online performances and concerts
  • Net-only TV vignettes
  • Will bundle content at discount (e.g. ABC News
    and People mag)