It's another merger. While AOL enjoys life as part of Verizon, it's one-time merger partner, Time Warner, is set to enjoy life as part of AT&T, assuming regulators and Donald Trump don't get in the way. Is this deal going to suffer a similar fate to the last one?
I can think of two good reasons why AT&T might want to buy Time Warner, the first because summer is coming for content producers, and Time Warner only owns HBO, the company behind the Game of Thrones TV series. The other reason is wizard, or the Harry Potter franchise. Time Warner is good at content. It's good at movies, that's reason number one. And it's good at content for TV, which is reason number two – as well as owning HBO, it also owns CNN.
They say content is king, if that is true, Time Warner just about owns the Crown Jewels.
And yet I find myself coming down with a nasty dose of déjà vu.
America Online forked out $103 billion for Time Warner in the year 2000. AT&T is paying $85 billion for Time Warner in 2016, or 2017 by the time the deal goes through. That's deflation for you, despite getting hold of two of the most valuable TV and movie franchises so far this century, Time Warner is getting cheaper.
By 2003, the new AOL Time Warner company was losing money so fast it was like Lord Voldemort had put a spell on the company. In fact, in 2002 it lost just shy of $100 billion in write-downs, a legacy of the ridiculous AOL valuation based on pre dotcom crash values.
The AOL President and COO, Bob Pittman of that time said: "All you need to do is put a catalyst to [Time Warner], and in a short period, you can alter the growth rate. The growth rate will be like an Internet company." But this was the era of dial up internet, when logging-on meant listening to a cacophony of zeros and ones, when data was transmitted at a pace a snail might have been ashamed of.
But the similarities between the America Online and Time Warner merger, and AT&T and Time Warner are striking. In both cases, Time Warner's suitor was, or is, an ISP. Okay, America Online was a company with a massive valuation based on unrealistic hope for the future, AT&T has a $226 billion valuation largely based on what it has done before.
Of course AT&T is more than just as ISP. But like the America Online of 16 years or so ago, it wants content so that it can bump up its offering to customers.
Maybe it has one big advantage over Time Warner's previous groom. We are in an era of decent internet speed. In the year 2000 it took an age to download a simple image, now you can watch Game of Thrones in high resolution. So in that sense, the synergy between an ISP and a producer of world class content is better.
But while Time Warner will no doubt be able to compete with other leading content producers for many years, AT&T is under threat from the likes of Facebook and Alphabet with their ideas to beam down high speed internet bandwidth from drones and hot air balloons.
Content producers who can carry on as they are seem to be sitting pretty, but for the network providers winter may be coming.