Penske Media Corp. announced today that it has closed a deal to purchase the venerable trade publication Variety from Reed Elsevier. Deadline.com — which is also owned by Penske — reports that the move adds Variety to a Penske stable that also includes TVLine, MovieLine, HollywoodLife, BGR and ENTV.
Veteran film writer Mike Fleming writes on Deadline.com: “I’ve thought a lot about the possibility this deal would close and I’m sure my former colleagues and the newer staff there will be understandably apprehensive. This is a bit jarring for me. I spent 20 years writing columns and covering the film business for Daily and Weekly Variety before moving to Deadline. I am relieved to see the publication get an opportunity to be reinvigorated. I would be surprised, for instance, if Variety continues behind a pay wall, or continues to exist in its current form as a daily and weekly print publication.”
Nikki Finke, who runs Deadline.com, has been a critic of traditional trade publications such as Variety.
Writes Fleming: “Even before Nikki Finke created Deadline and changed the game by telling unvarnished truths quickly and with attitude and savvy, our system had already made it very hard to surprise the industry reading audience, even after we added a website. I was a print snob who tried to nest on my exclusives and who thought trees had to die for me to be relevant. Nikki proved that a fallacy by building a dominant brand from the ground without killing a single tree. Too often, she would kick my butt up and down Wilshire Blvd by moving faster than I ever could at Variety.”
In a statement, Jay Penske, chairman and chief executive officer of PMC, said: “Since 1905, Variety has been the world’s premier entertainment news source, and is today one of the most recognized global media brands. We are thrilled to welcome Variety and its exceptional team into the PMC organization. As part of this significant acquisition, we plan to rapidly build upon Variety’s foundation while extending this invaluable brand’s presence across the Web, broadcast, mobile, and international markets.”
Neil Stiles, president of Variety, says in the press release announcing the sale: “We are enthusiastic that PMC will become the new steward of the great Variety franchise, which Reed Elsevier has built over the past 25 years, and the Silverman family for the 80 years before that. PMC is uniquely positioned to preserve and build the market presence of Variety. Their shared values and complementary assets provides for many new opportunities for the business model and brand.”
Click here to read an analysis of the sale of Variety by TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross.