Signs of weakness in the mainstream media are everywhere, but this should really get the pundits talking. Penske Media, which is owned by the son of racing car impresario Roger Penske, has acquired Variety, the 107-year-old bastion of mainstream entertainment news. Until now Penske Media was a loose collection of Web-based entertainment blogs led by Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood. Jay Penske, the owner of Penske Media, has indicated that he will run Variety and Deadline as separate entities, though it is likely that some reporters will be reporting for both outlets.
According to The New York Times, this insurgent purchase of Variety from Reed Elsevier was accomplished for the "fire sale price" of just $25 million, a far cry from the more than $350 million that Reed had been offered for Variety in the dim and distant pre-Internet era. Financing for the Penske deal was supplied by the hedge fund Third Point.
Variety has a staff of 120, while Deadline is primarily written by three reporters who work from home. Deadline of course has no print component, but its free Website gets about 2.4 million monthly visitors while Variety’s Internet site, which is only available to those who pay, manages about 320,000 unique visitors per month.