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News Corp.'s IGN buys Hearst's UGO Entertainment

IGN and UGO each operate websites that provide game reviews and other content aimed at men ages 18 to 34. The merger sets the stage for News Corp. to spin off IGN.

May 06, 2011|By Dawn C. Chmielewski, Los Angeles Times

News Corp.'s IGN Entertainment has acquired Hearst Corp.'s UGO Entertainment in a move that assembles a broad collection of websites aimed at male video gamers.

IGN and UGO each operate websites that provide game reviews as well as other content aimed at men ages 18 to 34. Topics include movies, gadgets, sports and "hot girls," as the UGO site puts it.

The sites draw a combined 70 million monthly users worldwide. The merger sets the stage for IGN to be spun off into its own entity.

"If you combine the two, you get a leader that is at another stratum in terms of size and leadership in the market," IGN President Roy Bahat said. "It also puts us on a path to create an independent company that is capable of doing even more in the future."

IGN's collection of sites include such GameSpy and FilePlanet, which focus on video games, as well as lifestyle sites such as AskMen. UGO, which was acquired from Hearst, includes sites for hard-core gamers, such 1up, and its self-named UGO site that delves into lifestyle topics.

The UGO site is "for gamers who do things other then games — a few of them have girlfriends, and they like gadgets," said Ken Bronfin, president of Hearst interactive media.

News Corp. paid $650 million to acquire in IGN in 2005; Hearst bought UGO for $100 million in 2007.

Paul Verna, an analyst with EMarketer, said News Corp. and Hearst have seemingly given up on the idea that the gaming/lifestyle sites would be a good fit for their corporations.

"They're not thinking of these as integrated properties that fit into a bigger picture," Verna said. "Which is presumably what they were thinking when they acquired the assets."

dawn.chmielewski@latimes.com

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