News Corp. Acquires IGN Entertainment

Pays $650 Million for Game-centric Media Company

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In a move underscoring both the intention of Rupert Murdoch to be a major Internet player and the growing importance of digital games as a mainstream entertainment medium, News Corp. today announced it was acquiring IGN Entertainment for $650 million.

News Corp, which plans to spend up to $2 billion for Internet-related acquisitions, has acquired game-centric media company IGN Entertainment.

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Headquartered in Brisbane, Calif., IGN is an online media company that operates a network of free and subscription-based online sites containing a wide variety of game-related content. Its properties include GameSpy.com, TeamXbox.com, FilePlanet.com, 3DGamers.com, Direct2Drive.com and GamesStats.com. It also runs IGNFilmForce.com and RottenTomatoes.com, magazine-like Web sites that cover the movie scene, and AskMen.com, a lifestyle site.

Multiple acquisitions
The deal follows two earlier acquisitions. News Corp. agreed to pay $580 million for Intermix, which operates community site MySpace.com, and in a separate deal acquired college sports site Scout Media, which is expected to bolster FoxSports.com.

In a note issued this afternoon, Merrill Lynch's chief media research analyst, Jessica Reif Cohen, wrote: "News Corp. further expands its Web presence, taking total monthly unique [visitors] to 70 million (28 million from IGN) and total monthly page views to 12 billion. This would place News Corp. fourth in total page views behind Yahoo, Time Warner and MSN, but ahead of EBay and Google.com."

Ms. Reif Cohen suggested further acquisitions were on the cards given Mr. Murdoch's interest in search engine technology. Earlier reports this summer had connected News Corp. with video search company Blinx.tv. According to today's Financial Times, Mr. Murdoch is convening an Internet summit with senior executives this weekend. The newly acquired IGN will become part of Fox Interactive Media, which was established in July and is led by President Ross Levinsohn.

IGN operates a variety of Web sites that provide, news, features and resources for digital game players.
$1-$2 billion acquisition budget
In early August Mr. Murdoch said the company had set aside around $1 billion for Internet-related acquisitions, adding that total purchases would not total more than $2 billion. At the time Mr. Murdoch said: "We have tens of billions of dollars of asset value in our news, sports and general entertainment businesses. While we monetize this value daily in the form of our TV shows, channels, films, books and newspapers, our priority now, which is our mandate, is to perfect a plan that will monetize them across the world on the Internet."

In yet another sign that News Corp. is in expansion mode, the company acquired the remaining 25% stake it did not hold in an Eastern Europe billboard company, News Out of Home, owned by Capital International Global Emerging Markets Private Equity Fund, a private equity fund. News Out of Home operates in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, Turkey and the Ukraine.

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