News Corp. to play games with MySpace

Digital chief calls move 'an intergral part' of strategy

Video games are the "missing piece in the equation" at media conglomerates, News Corp. chief digital officer Jon Miller said Thursday. News Corp. being no exception, its faltering MySpace asset intends to embrace online gaming more aggressively.

Miller made the remarks at Fortune magazine's Brainstorm: Tech conference.

He called MySpace's gaming intentions "an integral part of our strategy." Asked on the sidelines of the conference for more specifics, he demurred but said that MySpace could look quite different a year from now.

Miller's statements seem to jibe with News Corp. topper Rupert Murdoch's recent assertions that MySpace should morph into an "entertainment portal."

"There's a tremendous amount of work under way," Miller said of MySpace. He indicated later that MySpace could go the acquisition route to beef up its gaming capabilities.

Miller, sounding a bit like Disney CEO Robert Iger the previous night at the same conference, also said premium content on the Internet is undervalued. Miller envisions more and more Web surfers paying for top-tier journalism, for example.

He also sees advertisers demanding more quality online, which will lead to premium CPMs accompanying premium content. In fact, Miller said the advertising market won't necessarily recover with the economy as ad buyers will seek more efficiency for their money. Until they get it, they'll sit on the sidelines.

Earlier Thursday at the conference, Tim Armstrong made his first public appearance since being named CEO of AOL, a company Miller used to run.

Things got off to a bad start for Armstrong when his presentation started with a poll of the audience that determined AOL is largely an irrelevant Internet company. A subsequent poll, though, indicated confidence that Armstrong could remedy the situation.

He indicated that AOL intends to be an acquirer of companies and a seller of assets it already owns. And, sounding like Miller, he was bullish on the growth of online advertising.