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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Hollywood Paper Raises Curtain on New Database

Variety Group, known for its slick show business trade publications, is hoping its Hollywood readership has an appetite for a deluge of data.

Late last week, the Miracle Mile publisher, owned by London’s Reed Business Information, launched an online database of entertainment information that includes project budgets, cast and crew names, box office information and talent agency contacts, all of which can be used by subscribers to develop future TV, film and digital projects.

Variety President Neil Stiles said the company’s move into providing data comes as TV and movie industry executives face increased pressure to make the right development decisions – a pressure that is being driven by the breakdown of old distribution models as new forms of digital entertainment vie for consumers’ attention.

“With these data products, we want people to make smart business decisions,” Stiles said. “As it becomes harder and harder to make money on TV and film, there’s a clamoring for data.”

The new data division, called Variety Insight, charges $1,000 annually for access to its TV database, called TVtracker, and a separate $1,000 for its film database, FlixTracker. Digital production information is included in the film and TV database subscriptions.

Variety Insight charges subscribers on a per-computer basis, so larger companies are expected to buy as many as 200 subscriptions annually, Stiles said.

The publishing company has been looking for a way to sell data to entertainment industry clients for years. Stiles saw the opportunity ripen when Variety acquired television-focused database TVtracker in June. Feature film and digital production information was added and the service launched.

Still, despite Variety’s name brand, the trade publication company faces plenty of competition from other industry data providers, such as West L.A.’s Baseline StudioSystems, which is used by all of the major studios.

To differentiate Variety Insight, Stiles said he has hired staff from talent agencies and development departments to gather hard to come by information. The group has 15 dedicated employees but the data service also shares information back and forth with Variety’s editorial staff of about 150 that work for Daily Variety, Daily Variety Gotham, Weekly Variety and Variety.com.

Executives are shopping the service around Hollywood and giving demos to potential users. Early next year, the company plans to offer a subscription that will track film subsidy offerings around the world, called IncentivesTracker, with more data offerings to follow.

Publisher Dies

The Long Beach Post, a local news site and monthly newspaper, lost its publisher, partial owner and strategic visionary when Shaun Lumachi was killed Dec. 3 in a Florida car crash. He was 33.

Long Beach Councilman Robert Garcia, the outlet’s co-founder and Lumachi’s ownership partner, said that the paper will continue along the path set out by Lumachi.

“The Post will continue and it will grow and it will continue Shaun’s vision,” Garcia said. “Shaun was a visionary. It’s a big loss for the people who knew him and a huge loss for Long Beach.”

Among Lumachi’s plans were growing circulation and publishing biweekly instead of monthly, as well as converting the text-heavy website into a multimedia news destination.

Brian Addison, the Post’s executive editor, said he’s aiming for the paper to become biweekly by June, while a new site design that Lumachi had approved will go live within the next month.

The Post publishes 25,000 print copies per month on average, but the December print edition, scheduled to come out this week, is expected to be distributed more widely due to the outpouring of support after Lumachi’s death.

‘Ad-On’ Investment

TV stations relentlessly plug their online news sites at the end of broadcasts. And for good reason: Those sites are an increasingly important revenue source for stations as online ad spending continues to outpace growth in TV ad spending.

Nami Media, a Mar Vista technology company, is capitalizing on the online boom. It offers cost-per-click analysis of online ads attracting attention by recording how many clicks the ads generate.

Lin TV Corp., a Providence, R.I., company that owns 32 local stations across the country, last month acquired a majority stake in Nami. Lin TV plans to use the technology at its sites and sell the services to other sites.

Lin TV will package Nami’s technology with its other ad services company, RMM Online Advertising, an Austin, Texas, company that provides information to ad agencies on which advertisements are relevant to specific websites.

Last month’s acquisition gave Lin TV a 50.1% ownership stake in Nami. Financial details were not disclosed, although Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker placed the deal’s value at less than $5 million.

Staff reporter Jonathan Polakoff can be reached at jpolakoff@labusinessjournal.com or (323)549-5225, ext. 226.

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