IGN Grows Its Business With Rotten Tomatoes

Online game and movie publisher IGN Entertainment has picked movie review site Rotten Tomatoes as a promising addition to its portfolio of offerings for the 18 to 34-year-old audience. IGN has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the firm.

IGN should offer fertile ground for movie and DVD-oriented Rotten Tomatoes. IGN’s various properties include GameSpy Industries and TeamXbox, both acquired within the last year. The video and PC games enthusiasts reached by these and other IGN properties are targeted to the same audience as Rotten Tomatoes.

In turn, Rotten Tomatoes broadens IGN’s coverage of the movie and DVD markets. The acquisition will add another vertical property for advertisers hungry for the elusive 18-to-34-year-old market, especially the notorious “missing men” who are watching less television.

“In general, everyone’s pretty happy about doing the deal,” said Patrick Lee, CEO of Rotten Tomatoes. “We did it for two main reasons. Financially, we were looking for some more security. The other reason is that we felt with IGN’s resources we could grow Rotten Tomatoes a lot faster than we could on our own.”

Lee said Rotten Tomatoes will be adding more features but could not give details until plans were firmed up.

The companies did not disclose the terms of the acquisition, which is expected to close within the next few weeks.

The acquisition beefs up the size of the audience IGN offers advertisers. Emeryville, Calif.-based Rotten Tomatoes was the 12th most popular movie site in the United States, with 2.2 million unique visitors in May, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

Brisbane, Calif.-based IGN Entertainment runs the sixth-largest U.S. game site with IGN.com, with more than 4 million unique visitors in May, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

The size of Rotten Tomatoes’ audience is especially noteworthy because the company has only 10 employees. Created in 1998, it is run by a group of mostly twentysomething graduates of the University of California at Berkeley. Rotten Tomatoes has a database of reviews from leading movie critics such as Roger Ebert. It also features user comments for more than 100,000 movies with ratings of “Rotten” or “Fresh.”

Perhaps because of the bare-bones nature of the operation, Rotten Tomatoes managed to survive the dot-com downturn, a notable success it shares with its new parent.

The IGN Web site was launched back in May 1997 and was once part of Snowball, a network for users in the 13-to-30-age bracket. Snowball melted, but IGN survived.

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