In a surprise announcement at the MediaGuardian Changing Media Summit, founder Arianna Huffington explained that the new investment meant that they could finally expand outside the US.
The website, which bills itself as ‘The Internet Newspaper: News Blogs Video Community’, would follow the existing US model for its UK operation, with content from a core team of paid writers and editors, published alongside stories from unpaid bloggers. The same model which aroused anger in some quarters after the AOL takeover, with some bloggers questioning where their cut of the multi-million pound deal was.
It will of course be interesting to see how all this shakes up the opposition, with The Times website having scurried away behind the paywall and the dominance of the The Guardian, which covers similar liberal ground, and MailOnline, which despite a slight dip in traffic in February is celebrating its position as the most popular newspaper website for the 13th month running.
For AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong, bringing HuffPo over the Pond is all part of his vision to recast AOL as a content business. As he explained at the event: ‘Both companies may be big in the US, but the US only represents 4% of the world’s population.’
The launch in the UK could spell trouble for UK newspapers.The Huffington Post has challenged the New York Times in the US and has come close to surpassing it in terms of traffic
The two have also been involved in a war of words with the NY Times attacking the Huffington Post over its widespread practice of aggregation.
If the Huffington Post follows the same model in the UK the Guardian could find itself losing traffic. It is already under attack in print from the Independent and its new title i, which has seen its circulation jump to a record ABC figure.
In the US the Huffington Post has already shown it can turn a profit, which is something few blogs have managed.