Splitting up a company’s assets is quite an exercise. You try to maximize synergies, position for the future, and get buy-in from Wall Street and the IRS.
This week, it is E.W. Scripps’ turn. Unlike Belo, Scripps is matching its Internet properties with its cable network holdings — a “new media” split that will be called Scripps Network Interactive. Its newspapers, TV stations and United Features cartoon syndication divisions are going in the other pot.
The differences between Scripps and Belo are clear enough: Scripps has invested heavily in online shopping verticals (Shopzilla and uSwitch), and its cable networks (HGTV, Food Network, DIY Network). The Belo Internet properties, on the other hand, are mostly related to the newspapers (and to the TV stations).
For sure, Scripps has newspaper Web sites too. They are connected at the hip to such titles as the Rocky Mountain News, the Knoxville News-Sentinel and the Ventura County Star. It isn’t clear what is happening to them. My guess is that they’ll actually stay as sub-units of the papers.
A couple of years ago, one imagined that Shopzilla was going to bring Scripps’ newspapers into the world of connecting buyers and sellers. That would have been a mighty (and extremely challenging) effort. But at Scripps, there was never a serious attempt to pull that off. So, what is the next multimedia conglomerate to split up? And how will they line up?