NY Times Company Buys About.com

The New York Times Company reached a deal to buy About.com from Primedia for $410 million. News of the deal follows a week of rumors About.com was for sale, and coveted by The Times, along with several other bidders.

The purchase adds an alternative content model to the New York Times Company’s online news properties, NYTimes.com and Boston.com. In a statement, the company said it was motivated by About’s profitability and growth, and said the purchase would diversify the company’s online advertising base. About.com will operate as a separate business division.

According to Primedia, the purchase price is about ten times greater than About.com’s 2004 revenues. The NY Times Company anticipates the new property will be accretive to its 2007 earnings. Nielsen/NetRatings estimates About.com’s audience at 22 million, compared with the New York Times Digital’s (NYTD) aggregate 13 million.

“The global reach of About.com and opportunities for cross-promotion between its channels and our digital properties will be additive for both businesses,” said Janet Robinson, president and CEO of The New York Times Company.

Separately, the publisher promoted Martin Nisenholtz to senior VP of all digital operations. Nisenholtz has served as CEO of (NYTD) since 1999, before which he led the company’s first foray into electronic publishing. Earlier in his career, he served Ameritech as director of content strategy, and Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide as SVP. He founded the interactive marketing group there in 1983.

Nisenholtz called About’s network “efficient and extensible.”

“We are looking forward to sharing our online publishing expertise with About and expect to see growth from enhancing the content offering, expanding its coverage and developing its sales and marketing resources,” he said.

In its statement, The Times said it would enhance and expand the new unit’s content offering and raise the visibility of its brand.

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