News Corp's IGN confirms purchase of Hearst's UGO Entertainment

News Corporation-owned gaming and lifestyle network IGN Entertainment has confirmed its purchase of Hearst Corporation's men's lifestyle network UGO Entertainment, as part of a push to expand IGN's reach.

UGO Entertainment: acquired by News Corp's IGN Entertainment
UGO Entertainment: acquired by News Corp's IGN Entertainment

IGN Entertainment’s existing platforms will be combined with UGO.com, 1UP.com and the UGO network of owned and affiliated properties, which a spokesman for IGN claimed will reach a total global audience of more than 70 million a month.

News Corporation has made no secret of the fact it is looking for properties that complement IGN in the games and media sector, and it is believed that News Corporation may be bolstering IGN Entertainment ahead of a sale.

Under the terms of the deal, Hearst Corporation will become a shareholder of IGN, but not of News Corp, and will continue to have an active role in the business. It is understood the deal involved cash as well as equity.

A spokesman for IGN declined to comment on how much the deal values UGO Entertainment at, but when Hearst Corporation bought UGO in 2007 it was estimated to be worth $150m (£91.5m at the current exchange rate).

The existing IGN Entertainment network, including AskMen and IGN.com had 3.13 million UK unique users a month in March, according to ComScore, while the UGO network reached 2.32 million users.

According to a spokesman for IGN Entertainment, ComScore reports a little over 10% user duplication between both networks.

Ian Chambers, international vice-president and managing director, IGN Entertainment, said: "With our UK reach and revenue continuing to grow, this is an exciting development that positions us at the heart of men’s entertainment media online, with new opportunities in gaming and men’s lifestyle complementing our existing market-leaders IGN and AskMen.

"Delivering a combined UK audience of almost 5.5 million users aged 18 to 35 in March 2011, we look forward to welcoming the UGO sites into our extended portfolio."

According to News Corp’s results earlier this week its "other" segment, which includes IGN Entertainment and beleaguered social network MySpace alongside other digital business, made an operating loss in the first three months of 2011 of $165m.

While the losses were primarily blamed on lower advertising and search revenues at MySpace, which News Corp is expected to offload, it is understood that IGN is a profitable business.

In March, IGN Entertainment hired former Target Media group trading director Adam Hopkinson as UK commercial director and is set to double the size of its sales operation.

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