Blog Post

Updated: NBCU Invests In Sugar Publishing; iVillage Will Sell Blog Network’s Ads, Roll Up Numbers

Update: The official version is out. Deborah Fine, president, iVillage Properties, talks about what Sugar adds: “young, trendsetting women who go online daily for gossip, advice and fashion.”

NBC Universal will announce Wednesday that it is investing in young but hot blog network Sugar PublishingPopSugar, BuzzSugar, FitSugar, etc. and social network Team Sugar. The investment in the company’s second round will give NBCU a minority stake, according to a source familiar with the multi-part deal. NBCU’s iVillage, which skews older than Sugar’s 10 sites, will take over the network’s display ad sales effective immediately under a rev share agreement and — probably most important given the increased competition from Glam — will be able to roll up Sugar’s 4.5 million uniques (based on internal numbers) and other traffic into iVillage. Also as part of the deal, Sugar will syndicate programming to iVillage and will have marketing relationships with related TV shows like iVillage Live. Sugar Publishing was founded by Brian Sugar, CEO & Publisher; and wife Lisa Sugar, editor in chief, who started PopSugar.

For the second round, NBCU joins Sequoia, which was the only outside investor in the $5 million first round last September. The number for this round isn’t being disclosed but I believe it to be considerably higher than the first one.

iVillage-Glam: Last week, Glam caused a bit of a stir by claiming it had surpassed iVillage. At the time, I heard from iVillage reps who had a few points to make, particularly about Glam as an ad network that includes sites well beyond fashion and beauty compared to iVillage as a “premium content/community destination” that focuses on partners based on content and compatibility of topics. iVillage hit 17.1 million uniques in May, according to comScore Media Metrix. Display ad revenue has jumped since NBCU bought the established women’s network; it was up 46 percent for 1Q07 compared to the previous year.