Cablevision Still Bullish on Newsday Synergies, Despite Huge Write-Offs

Cablevision bet big on synergy (and ignored the CW about the newspaper industry) when it bought Newsday from Tribune Co. last summer for $650 million. Today, less than eight months later, it concedes that it has written off $402 million of that investment (a significantly worse investment than Stephen Marbury of Cablevision’s Knicks).

Whether the economics of the deal ever makes sense, here’s the rub: Cablevision remains extremely bullish on the possible synergies between the newspaper, the newspaper Web site, and the on-demand video capabilities of its Optimum broadband service. On Jan. 1, it launched the Optimum Autos brand across both Newsday and Cablevision on Channel 605. Looking forward, Optimum Homes, a real estate channel, has been slated for Channel 606.

During an analyst call today, COO Tom Rutledge said Cablevision continues to believe it can better manage the transition of Newsday, which counts 1 million users a week for its newspaper and Web site. News is one aspect — Cablevision has been an industry leader with local 24/7 news. Classifieds are the other.

“Optimum Autos has great content related to Long Island, it’s a respected bran, and it will continue to attract the same advertisers and consumers that we want to reach,” said Rutledge. “That’s ultimately the value that Newsday offers to us.”

Optimum Autos itself is poised to leverage the combined dealer base of Newsday, Newsday.com and Cablevision. A quick count looks like they may have around 300 dealers between them.

The rebranded site, which switched from Cars.com to Adicio Motors on Jan. 1, provides “the best of all worlds,” per company press release. It has “maximum coverage across print, interactive and cable TV platforms, easy to use technology for uploading, searching and reporting, and a customizable local environment.”

The release went on to note that Optimum Autos includes “multiple color photos for each listing and one-click dealer contact. It also includes hundreds of promotional video clips from leading auto manufacturers.”

Adicio Motors GM Deep Menon told us that after 11 weeks, the implementation has been going very well. By using Adicio’s reporting tools, Optimum Autos can show dealers their ROI based on the number of qualified leads they are getting. They can also get exclusive leads.

“Dealers have many ways to maximize their visibility, especially with video reviews, says Menon. At the same time, “the site can also sell pre-roll and video sponsorships by car make.” More advanced technology is in the works.

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