TechCrunch And Huffington: Who Will Buy The Big Blogs?

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The name brand blogs. The big ones. Huffington. TechCrunch. GigaOm. Boing Boing. Ars Technica. SeekingAlpha.

AOL has already bought Weblogsinc. It owns popular blogs including flagship Engadget.

But, with the internet operations at newspapers and some other tradition media companies making very little headway, the big blogs take on a very significant attraction. They reach audiences in great numbers. They have credibility. They are not expensive to run. And, they make money.

Take Huffington. According to research firm Compete, it has an audience almost as large as the online version of the Philadelphia Inquirer. As a part of a larger newspaper organization like The New York Times (NYT) or Washington Post (WPO), that audience could probably be much bigger. NYT and WPO need a Huffington or two. Their internet revenues are under 10% of their total and not growing fast enough to keep up with falling print sales. Huffington has raised $10 million in VC money. What is it worth? $100 million. Maybe more. Worth it for The Times or The Post. With the trouble that are in, yes.

The big tech blogs are even larger than Huffington.

According to internet measurement service, TechCrunch has an audience about a third of CNet (CNET). And CNet is in bad shape. It’s blog business has not caught on. In early 2006, its shares were $16. Now they trade at under $8. Do they need a way to improve their reach and image with the online tech crowd?

Alexa actually puts TechCrunch’s reach at double wsj.com. If Mr. Murdock’s News Corp (NWS) is going to start offering Dow Jones (DJ) print products for free, having a large tech news property could be a big deal. Tech site Ars Technica also has a larger reach than wsj.com. Another major tech blog that could enhance the overall web presences of Dow Jones.

In the core financial news field, SeekingAlpha is the largest stock market blog. It runs close to 100 stories some days. That is a lot of extra content, low priced content, for a company like Reuters (RTRSY), The New York Times, or Dow Jones.  More page impressions. A larger audience for online marketing.

The largest blogs will get offers. Too many big media companies need additional outlets and content on the web. The problem for the potential buyers is keeping the talent at the blog sites. Most rely on just one or two big names. But, that is not unlike the issue that TheStreet (TSCM) has with Cramer. He is the franchise. They have to give him incentives to stay.

The New York Times or Washington Post will stop by to see Huffington. It is just a matter of how soon.

Douglas A. McIntyre