Action-Sports Properties GrindTV And Sportnet Merge

Guess the idea is that one action sports-focused digital media company is better than two in this economy: SoftBank-backed GrindTV and Wasserman Media Group’s Sportnet have decided to merge, though, they’re not calling it a merger. The combined company will operate as Sportnet, with Wasserman Media Group and SoftBank as the majority shareholders, collectively; the remaining shares will be held by various private investors and GrindTV founders Eric Hawkins and Greg Morrow.

Hawkins will head up the company as CEO and Morrow will serve as COO; Sportnet CEO Ron Bension will stay on in a consultative role. The deal consolidates a number of digital properties under one entity: GrindTV has premium and user-generated videos, podcasts and other content; it also serves as the official action sports channel for *Yahoo* Sports. Sportnet’s network includes over three-dozen sites like Wetsand.com and Motocross.com; aside from scale, the sites have deep ties with action-sports events like the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and the AMA motocross series.

But the combination of the two doesn’t guarantee success: Sportnet had to lay off 41 percent of its staff in November, and there are smaller networks like Loop’d and Sportgenic that offer different flavors of action-sports audiences to advertisers. There’s also Allisports.com, the online home of the action sports JV NBCU and Viacom (NYSE: VIA) launched in December. Release.

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