NEW YORK The New York Times Co. said it signed an agreement with Primedia to buy About.com for approximately $410 million in cash.
The purchase will greatly expand the amount of Internet advertising inventory The Times has to sell, including online video and display ads. About.com also shows paid listings from Google. The acquisition is expected to close late this quarter or early next quarter.
About.com has about 22 million visitors per month, the company said. According to The Times, its online properties, which include NYTimes.com and Boston.com, will rank as the 12th largest on the Web.
About.com has about 500 experts run sections of its site devoted to specific topics, ranging from '80s music to military history to gardening. Primedia acquired the company in October 2000 in a $690 million stock deal, at the height of the dot-com boom, with the thought that About.com's niche content would mesh with Primedia's stable of offline magazines. Like AOL's marriage to Time Warner, however, the deal's synergies did not pan out. Primedia's president and CEO Kelly Conlin acknowledged as much in a statement announcing About.com's sale to the Times, saying About.com "is completely distinct from Primedia's other Web sites."
The Times said it would not begin to make money from the purchase until 2007. It stated that About.com's 2004 revenue was less than $41 million. The company said About.com is profitable.
"About.com's network of guides is an efficient and extensible content model that has developed a strong user base among enthusiasts and others interested in particular subject areas," said Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president of digital operations at The Times.
With spending on Internet advertising increasing, traditional media companies have paid steep prices to expand their Web content. Dow Jones last November paid $519 million to acquire MarketWatch.com.