NBC Uni sweet on Sugar sites

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NBC Universal will invest in Sugar Publishing Inc., a network of sites focusing on young women, as a complement to its iVillage property, which skews toward an older demographic.

Under the terms of an agreement announced last week, NBC Uni will acquire a minority stake in Sugar, which publishes young female lifestyle and entertainment sites including PopSugar, FabSugar, BellaSugar and BuzzSugar as part of its Sugar Network. NBC Uni's digital media sales team will handle Sugar's advertising inventory, and the sites will share content with iVillage.

"IVillage's advertisers have access to a committed audience of women who are going through a spectrum of life stages, from dating to parenting, health and home," iVillage president Deborah Fine said. "With the addition of the Sugar Networks' inventory, that spectrum now includes young, trendsetting women who go online daily for gossip, advice and fashion."

This announcement comes amid reports that iVillage is losing ground in the battle for female Internet users to upstart Glam Media. ComScore Media Metrix revealed that, with 17.1 million users in May, the NBC Uni property finished second to Glam's 17.3 million users for the month in the women's Web properties category. Glam also saw a 3,638% jump in traffic compared with May 2006, according to comScore.

This month, Glam began an ad campaign touting its new ranking. In published reports, Fine responded by saying that she didn't consider Glam a competitor and that her site, which NBC said has seen a 13% increase in traffic over the past year, is a safer bet for advertisers.

Founded in April 2006, the San Francisco-based Sugar Network receives 4.5 million unique visitors a month, according to Google Analytics. FabSugar recently won the 2007 People's Choice Webby for fashion.
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