News Corp. to Buy IGN

Last week’s rumors that News Corp. was in pursuit of IGN Entertainment were confirmed today, as the media conglomerate announced it will acquire the online gaming and game information company for approximately $650 million.

The deal, following News Corp’s acquisition of Intermix, gives the company a stronger hold on the elusive young male audience, as well as a vast online network with an audience approaching that of the major online portals.

“We have significantly enhanced our online reach, strengthening our position as the fifth most trafficked presence on the web. We also become the fourth largest network in terms of monthly page impressions,” said News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch.

IGN will become part of Fox Interactive Media, a new unit that News Corp. created in July to oversee Foxsports.com, Foxnews.com, Fox.com and the Web sites owned by Fox’s local television stations. That move was seen as the first step in News Corp’s planned Internet expansion, which Murdoch told investors in August would be a “major part” of the company’s future. At the time, Murdoch pegged the potential near-term investments News Corp was considering making at $1 billion.

IGN has approximately 28 million unique visitors to a network of sites that includes IGN.com, GameSpy, TeamXbox, AskMen.com and Rotten Tomatoes.

The acquisition also gives News. Corp a hand in technology sales, including video game enablement and in-game advertising technology. Earlier this year, IGN made its entry into ad serving within 3D game environments, an area now dominated by Massive Inc. and IGA Partners. Several industry watchers cried foul when IGA announced the expansion, calling it a conflict of interest for a reviewer of games to also have a vested interest in their popularity.

IGN’s CEO Mark Jung will continue in his role following the completion of the sale, expected in Q4.

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