When AOL bought the Patch network of hyperlocal news sites in 2009, it made a gamble. Towards the end of 2011, it looked like that gamble was not paying off, or at least not as quickly as the internet giant had hoped.
However, according to a press release published today, the number of unique visitors to Patch sites has more than tripled between December 2010 and December 2011.
Business Insider reported last month that it estimated the hyperlocal network had lost about $100 million over the last year. This was despite Patch's target for its first sites to reach profitability by the end of 2011. While a Patch spokeswoman flatly denied Business Insider's figure, reductions to Patch sites' freelance budget last October and the fact that the company was encouraging its editors to work more closely with sales people could be see as a sign that the hyperlocal network was coming under financial pressure, even though Patch President Warren Webster insisted that the changes were not driven by financial conditions.