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The Newspaper Consortium, Emphasizing ‘Scale,’ Re-Ups for Five Years

By: 1 October 2013

The seven year old Newspaper Consortium with Yahoo is getting a new lease on life as “The Local Media Consortium,” and is re-signing members to a new five year group deal that will seek out digital opportunities with Yahoo and additional technology and content players as they arise.

Under terms of the new deal, members may opt in and out at will, rather than facing penalties for withdrawal. All local media members will now also be able to join and participate across the board. Previously, TV stations were not given access to certain features.

Roughly 85 percent of the original consortium membership has re-upped, including McClatchy, Hearst Corp., Morris Communications, Digital First Media, Lee Enterprises Inc., Berkshire Hathaway’s BH Media Group Inc. and A.H. Belo Corp. There are also new members such as Deseret Digital Media and Ballentine Media. More members will be announced at the end of October. Combined together, the consortium represents over 200 million unique users and garners 1.7 billion monthly page views.

By signing up for new terms, the newspaper companies are sending a clear message that they are making money via the consortium’s display ads and other activities. They also see many advantages to banding together and exploring mutual opportunities in a way that might be more efficient than building entirely new consortiums for various projects.

Newspaper products that have been developed outside the consortium in recent year, for instance, include such projects as Wanderful Media, a national shopping play; and the Zillow newspaper-real estate consortium.

We talked this morning with McClatchy VP of interactive media and Consortium Chairman Chris Hendricks, along with Consortium Executive Director Rusty Coats, a longtime newspaper vet most recently with E.W. Scripps and Media General. “It is a much different approach,” says Hendricks. “This is more of a ‘cult of the willing.’ We are looking to see how we can collectively work together on multiple fronts. We are looking at the world through the prism of scale, which is what really matters.”

Over the years, Hendricks notes that Yahoo has been able to provide a number of functions to the Consortium, including ad serving, content and search. It has also been able to extend its audience for display ads. But the Consortium now wants to investigate more wide ranging “plumbing” functions with a wide range of players, plus content and ad exchanges, he says.


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