Gannett’s Metromix Investment: ‘Under $10 Million’
Gannett is teaming with Tribune on a 50/50 basis to take the latter’s Metromix entertainment site national, and reach into the highly valued 21- to 24-year-old market that doesn’t typically use newspapers — online or off. The JV plans to cover the top 30 to 35 markets within a year, including invasions of cities where neither media company has a newspaper or TV station. A 12-person sales team will anchor the national effort.
Gannett’s buy-in is said to be under $10 million, which is probably a greater reflection of the unestablished value of the Metromix brand than the much greater investment that will be needed to build out the sites. Gannett is already teamed up with Tribune (and McClatchy) for CareerBuilder, ShopLocal and Topix. The two companies are part of the broader newspaper consortium that owns Classified Ventures (Cars.com, Apartments.com, etc.)
Metromix was launched 10 years ago as The Tribune’s city guide after the company began backing away from its JV with America Online for Digital City. Metromix is now launched throughout the major Tribune markets, including L.A., Baltimore, New York, Connecticut, Orlando and South Florida.
In those markets, it is clearly competing against other city guides and event services, including Citysearch, Yelp, Eventful and Zvents. The latter is an especially interesting one to watch as it partners with newspapers such as The Boston Globe and Orange County Register.
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Newspapers are continuing to build consortiums online, but the same thing is not happening as quickly with other broadcast media. Why? Because the Internet has hit newspaper bottom lines the hardest (Classifieds). Now, newspapers are moving into branding and SMB advertising with Metromix. This is bedrock of the alt weeklies and yellow pages on the low end (SMB) and TV on the high end (brand). We don’t think Metromix is necessarily the model that will scale (see ROI on CitySearch investment), but it’s interesting that TV and Radio are absent here (with DiggPhilly being a high profile and isolated exeption).