The blogger-run world of entertainment reporting has certainly crept up on Variety. And just last week it was announced that the venerable 107-year-old entertainment news publication had been sold to Penske Media Corporation, a collection of entertainment blogs that includes Deadline.com and Hollywood Life. The deal— which was considered by many to be a fire sale — was for $25 million and may very well prove that, in order to be viable, a dotcom trade publication needs a printed com(pany).
“As a company, we plan to rapidly build upon Variety‘s foundation, while extending this invaluable brand’s presence across the web, broadcast, mobile and international markets,” Jay Penske, chief executive of the Santa Monica-based PMC, was quoted as saying.
Penske has also said that he plans to run Variety and Deadline (formerly a major competitor to Variety) as two separate outlets. VideoAge competes with Variety at all major international TV and film markets.
One question that lingers is whether Variety will continue to keep its website behind a paywall. Industry experts say they doubt it, given PMC’s Web presence.
Reed Elsevier — which owned Variety for two decades — had initially offered the paper up for about $50 million. But the company has recently faced layoffs, loss of advertising revenue and an increase in online competitors like Deadline.
This year, Variety, which has revenue of $45 million, was expected to make a profit of about $5 million, the Times reported.
According to the New York Times, Variety lends credibility to Penske Media. Some of Penske’s blogs are taken seriously in Hollywood, but his image as bad-boy playboy hasn’t helped.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Daily Variety’s circulation is about 28,000, the weekly magazine’s of about 30,000, and Variety.com has about 17,000 paying users. Variety.com has about 320,000 monthly unique visitors, and Deadline (which is free) has 2.4 million, according to the New York Times.