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No joke: Demand Media sells to E.W. Scripps for $39 million



Here’s a story about a new media company selling an old media brand to an old media company that wants to be a new media company: Demand Media is selling humor site Cracked to E.W. Scripps for $39 million.

Demand is the company that once scared the beejeebus out of the media business, when its super-low-cost, search-driven, content-farm model looked like the future. Then Google shifted the way it generated search results, and Demand fell down and never recovered.

Now Demand has shrunk down to a company that’s running a handful of content sites with declining traffic and revenue, and a smaller but growing e-commerce business. The cash sale “significantly strengthens our balance sheet, and positions us to drive profitable growth moving forward,” CEO Sean Moriarty said in a statement.

Cracked was founded in 2005, but gets to associate itself with the brand created by the Mad knock-off magazine founded in 1958. It has 40 employees, and generated $11 million in revenue last year.

In January, comScore said the site attracted eight million U.S. visitors; the Demand release plays up Cracked’s “one million YouTube subscribers and more than 20 million monthly video views across YouTube and Facebook.”

E.W. Scripps, meanwhile, started out as a newspaper company in 1878, but has gotten out of that business. Now its primary revenue stream comes from a portfolio of TV stations it owns, but it is expanding into digital. Last year it bought podcasting producer/distributor Midroll for at least $50 million.

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