Times Mirror, the $3.4 billion Los Angeles-based media company, has agreed to acquire InterZine Productions for approximately $8 million, sources said.
The Norwalk, Conn.-based InterZine, publisher of sports sites, declined to comment on the acquisition at press time. The announcement was expected to be made as soon as this week.
For Times Mirror, which has a relatively modest online publishing operation, the acquisition is a move to make up ground in the competitive field of online sports publications, currently dominated by Disney, CBS, Microsoft/NBC and Time Warner. InterZine, a closely held publishing company that launched in 1994, has incubated 13 online sports-related properties including iGOLF, iRACE and iSKI along with The Sports Business Daily.
Times Mirror is expected to retain the majority, if not all of InterZine’s staff of 64. However, the exact future of many of InterZine’s online publications remains uncertain. Times Mirror maintains online versions of Golf Magazine and Ski Magazine, which essentially compete with InterZine for the same ad revenue. InterZine publications could be consolidated into the better known Times Mirror brands following the buy-out.
But InterZine has done well in the online world, amassing 10 million monthly page views across its sites and assembling a roster of blue chip advertisers that includes AT&T, Cadillac, Marriott and American Express.
For Times Mirror, acquiring an established online media publisher is a relatively cheap investment compared to growing its own Web brands organically.
InterZine gains considerable clout. “The smaller guys are having a harder and harder time of playing on that battlefield unless they have a well-defined niche and, more importantly, a means to promote themselves,” said Derek Reisfield, vice president of business development at CBS and a major architect behind the CBS/SportsLine USA merger.
In the third quarter of 1997, the category of sports sites ranked fourth in ad revenue, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau.
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