Will Traditional Media Buy Up Top Blogs?

According to Douglas McIntire at 24/7 Wall St, that’s what’s coming, the only remaining question is when.

“…with the internet operations at newspapers and some other tradition media companies making very little headway, the big blogs take on a very significant attraction. They reach audiences in great numbers. They have credibility. They are not expensive to run. And, they make money.

“Take Huffington. According to research firm Compete, it has an audience almost as large as the online version of the Philadelphia Inquirer. As a part of a larger newspaper organization like The New York Times (NYT) or Washington Post (WPO), that audience could probably be much bigger. NYT and WPO need a Huffington or two. Their internet revenues are under 10% of their total and not growing fast enough to keep up with falling print sales. Huffington has raised $10 million in VC money. What is it worth? $100 million. Maybe more. Worth it for The Times or The Post. With the trouble that are in, yes.

“The big tech blogs are even larger than Huffington.”

The theory makes sense, up to a point. Audiences are moving online and advertisers, inevitably, are following them. If traditional publishers and portals can’t keep pace with the independent sites on the audience-growth front, acquisition is the likely strategy. The hard part, though, as McIntire points out is maintaining (and growing) the value of those acquisitions:

“The problem for the potential buyers is keeping the talent at the blog sites.”

It’s a problem that needs to be solved on both sides, the buyer and the seller. If the value of an independent media brand is only that of its front man or woman, the deal terms are bound to penalize him or her for leaving — some kind of long-term lock up that may not be appealing to a site’s author. The independent authors and publishers may want to change this formula. And if a potential acquirer can’t find a way to encourage a site’s author to continue to build relationships with a growing audience of readers over the long term, how will the acquisition premium ever justify itself? Acquiring entities may need a new approach, a model by which they pull top content-creators into the fold, but do so loosely enough that the content-creators can enjoy the freedom and decision-making authority they do right now.

  1. # mac said: October 4th, 2007 at 10:50 am

    syndication ….. now, I wonder what company could best provide that solution? … :)

  2. # Chas said: October 4th, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Ha! You caught me, Mac. What can I say? I believe in FM’s model.

  3. # sandrar said: September 10th, 2009 at 6:25 am

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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