Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

After Divorcing Sports Illustrated, Turner Wants to Hook Up With Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report and Turner, which have been circling each other for months, are edging closer to a deal. People familiar with both companies say they haven’t agreed on final terms, but are now negotiating exclusively and have agreed on a price: If the transaction goes through, Time Warner’s cable network unit is set to pay more than $200 million for the sports site.

The logic for the deal is that Turner has a small presence in online sports — it manages sites like PGA.com and NBA.com, but doesn’t own them — and Bleacher Report’s nine-million-plus visitors will help fix that.

But it’s worth nothing that, up until this spring, Turner used to have a much bigger presence in online sports, via an arranged marriage that didn’t seem to make either participant very happy: For the last couple years, Turner managed Sports Illustrated’s Web site on behalf of Time Warner’s Time Inc.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is famously uninterested in corporate synergy, so I’m not quite sure why he thought having the cable guys sell ads for the print guys would work. And from what I could tell, no one on either side liked the deal. The guys who made the content for the site thought the ad guys didn’t do a bang-up job, and vice versa.*

But that pairing ended in divorce this quarter, and Turner’s sports group has said it was going to create its own “branded digital destination.”

Perhaps they’ve decided that buying is easier than building. As it turns out, Bleacher Report’s traffic matches up almost precisely with SI.com’s, according to comScore. Convenient! (Click to enlarge.)


 
*This dynamic, we should note, also exists at nearly every commercial Web site, everywhere.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Everett Collection)


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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google