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Aug 5, 2008

ESPN Buys Motorsport's Racing-Live.com, Disney Bags RaisingKids.co.uk

ESPN Buys Motorsport's Racing-Live.com, Disney Bags RaisingKids.co.uk

imageESPN (NYSE: DIS) is buying Racing-Live.com, an independent motorsports site founded way back in 1995. Racing-Live.com claims three million monthly uniques and has four sites - F1-Live.com, Moto-Live.com, Rally-Live.com and Raid-Live.com - covering F1, Moto GP, superbikes, rally, sports cars and karting. It was started by Montpellier-based racing fan Michel Marvie - who first began publishing motorosport news to France's Minitel in the 80s - and has grown to offer live race updates and news in English, French, Japanese, Italian, German and Spanish.

For ESPN, this is another acquisition of a sport-specific indie publisher, following the earlier purchases of Cricinfo and Scrum.com. ESPN International EVP Russell Wolff said the acquisition would complement its Nascar and vintage car TV coverage. Who'd bet against inclusion of results on Scorecenter, too?

As well as editorial, Racing-Live.com also offers premium-rate video highlights. According to Racing-Live.com, the sites will retain their identity but: "Moving closer to a major strategic organisation of international dimension was essential in order to continue the adventure at an ever-higher level."

ESPN parent Disney's interactive unit has also purchased RaisingKids.co.uk, a parenting advice site started by child psychologist Dr Pat Spungin in 2001, to add to its portfolio of sites includingUKFamily.co.uk. The site claims over 142,000 monthly uniques and over 100,000 registered users. Neither purchase price was disclosed.

Updated: Nielsen Business Media and Hollywood Reporter: Finally For Sale?

imageUpdated: Is it? That's been the speculation for a long time now, and Sharon Waxman, the former NYT reporter, says that Hollywood Reporter and the other 41 trade papers in Nielsen Business Media division is up for sale, citing "two solid sources." If true, this means that both the major Hollywood trades are on the block, with Variety (as part of Reed Business Information) being in the middle of a sale process as well.

THR's revenues have declined from a $20 million EBITDA to $9 million, and may drop as low as $6 million in the coming year, according to Sharon. Compare this to Variety, which is doing about $100 million in revenues, though not sure of the profits. THR has been cutting positions of late, and retrenched as much as one-third of its 135 strong staff.

NBM has 40 publications, over 135 trade shows and conferences, and 195 digital products and services, and on the media trade side, including THR, Billboard, Backstage, Adweek, Mediaweek, Editor & Publisher and others. The company is denying the unit is on the block...we'll see how long that official position lasts.

Updated: Besides Nielsen's official denials, some other insiders are also pooh-poohing the on-sale sign, and the numbers mentioned in the report, including the EBITDA number. Someone put it very nicely to me: "Unless your new friends at the Guardian want to buy us, who out there is this mystery buyer? And why would they bypass Reed to get us?"

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