I don’t want to start any rumors that Deadline Hollywood is going to buy Variety. But I am curious what the square footage is of Variety President Neil Stiles’ office… That Reed Business Information today announced it is beginning a process to sell Variety doesn’t come as a surprise to me. In fact, for the past year, I’ve been predicting it would go on the block in April 2012 based on my sources’ accurate information. (They told me Reed was merely waiting until the end of Oscar season and that “For Your Consideration’ ad revenue.) This follows the divestment by RBI of its other U.S. business magazines over the past three years. The last time Variety was put up for sale was when parent company Reed Elsevier trie to auction its b-to-b publishing unit RBI as a whole in February 2008 but took it off the block late that year citing the down global markets. But the price tag was unrealistically high. And now Variety is worth far less.
Reed can see that Variety’s best days are behind it: that awards advertising has slumped, that its paywall isn’t the panacea now that its print edition is too thin and its online posting not a priority, and that its showbiz reporting is increasingly inaccurate. (Just today, Variety wrongly claimed that The Hunger Games‘ midnight shows grossed $25M when the real number was $19.75M.) Why, just the other month, I was having a conversation with Neil Stiles where he admitted to me that a recent survey conducted by Variety showed that Deadline was the most consumed online trade by the entertainment industry: way more than Variety, and way way more than The Hollywood Reporter. (Stiles also confirmed to me he’s working without a contract but denies rumors that he’s on the way out and about to retire to his new home in Florida.) Meanwhile, other media outlets keep reporting that investor Guggenheim Partners wants to sell The Hollywood Reporter and would love any decent offer for the red ink-hemorrhaging celebrity sheet since its parent company Prometheus Global Media is so embattled right now. On the other hand, lean and mean and thriving Deadline Hollywood is not for sale by parent company Penske Media Corp.
This month marks the 6th anniversary of my founding of online Deadline Hollywood, and it constantly amazes me how far we’ve come compared to Variety’s 100+year and The Hollywood Reporter’s 80+year ossified histories. In fact we continue to expand. Deadline Hollywood’s content from our must-read online edition now goes into print publications (7 issues apiece for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 movie awards seasons, 3 issues for the 2011 Emmy season and 6 upcoming for the 2012 Emmy season), and television (deals continue to be made for the parent company PMC’s new ENTV division with studios in both Los Angeles and New York City), and YouTube (PMC deal struck with Google for YouTube primary channel specializing in breaking entertainment news), and content syndication (deals signed with newspapers and Internet giants), etc. Thank you, readers.