Image via CrunchBase
I'm going to place a bet right here, right now that the breakout web content property of the year is going to be the AOL owned Patch.com. Patch what might you ask.
Patch.com is comprised of local sites, edited by professional writers, who pull together local news on the town or village level (population size 15 - 100K) For example, there was a traffic accident on the road in front of my house in the 36,000 resident village of Plainview, N.Y.. The Plainview Patch had pictures, a well written description and details on what occurred. In fact, only Patch covered the accident. The same for the gas leak in the local Chinese restaurant and coverage of various events around town. The coverage was high quality, appeared quickly after the event happened and provided just enough detail to keep you interested.
When my wife opens her AOL, the Patch screams the news of the neighborhood. Literally our neighborhood, as in down the block.
While I can't speak to the economics of this hyper local coverage, it's incredibly addictive. After all, once you get past world news, national news etc, what you really care about is what's happening in your little corner of the world. In an era where any writer can carry a quality camera, Patch reporters are defining the future of journalism. It's local, it's next door and it's high quality.
Patch.com will be the content phenomenon of the next 12 months. With 50% of all advertising revenues considered to be local, the Patch is going to grow quickly.
Huffington Post and Yahoo move aside, the Patch is where the action is and it's the start of where AOL will rebuild their content franchise.