N.Y. Times at bat with Baseline
Moving deeper into showbiz, the New York Times has acquired the industry’s near-ubiquitous data resource Baseline StudioSystems from Hollywood Media in a deal worth $35 million.The Times plans to grow Baseline’s subscription business while using it to expand the paper’s own online entertainment resources for both consumers and professionals. Hollywood Media, which also operates Web sites like Hollywood.com and Broadway.com and has a minority interest in MovieTickets.com, acquired Studio Systems in 2004 for $4.75 million and combined it with its then-primary competitor, Baseline, which Hollywood already owned. Company has been considering a sale of the combined showbiz database in recent months and finally reached a deal with the Times, which has been spending money to increase its online entertainment offerings. “We have very ambitious plans for our entertainment section online,” said NYTimes.com senior veep-general manager Vivian Schiller. The Baseline content will be added to “the criticism and reporting and blogs and videos.” Along with integrating some Baseline StudioSystems content into its Web site, the Times plans to fully support the subscription biz with hopes of expanding its revenue base by adding users from the Gotham media world. It will also continue the company’s syndication service, which provides data to other media companies. (Variety licenses Baseline StudioSystems data for its Web site.) Baseline is expected to bring in revenue of $6 million this year and is currently profitable. It will continue to operate out of Santa Monica under execs Rafi Gordon and Alex Amin, who will report to Schiller. Deal leaves Hollywood Media with its consumer-oriented Web sites and several other data businesses, such as showtimes provider CinemaSource.