Local Blog Network Gothamist Being Bought by Cablevision’s Rainbow Media

Gothamist, the local city blog network that is best known for its New York City edition, is being acquired by Cablevision-owned Rainbow Media, paidContent has learned. The price is between $5 million to $6 million, though we understand a good portion of that is a performance-based earnout. Rainbow has Cablevision’s cable channels in its portfolio, including Sundance, IFC, AMC and others. Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), through a separate division, also owns Newsday, which focuses on Long Island in NY, though unclear if there will be any synergies between Gothamist and Newsday with this acquisition. Another possibility for Gothamist is local cable TV rollout on Cablevision systems. Updated: Spoke to a company source, that confirmed that the deal is about to close soon. The source clarified that the acquisition has nothing to do with Newsday, but is focused on strengthening indie-local franchise for Sundance and IFC.

Gothamist was founded in 2003 by publisher Jake Dobkin, then over the years expanded into other cities such as Chicago, LA, DC, Austin and others, for a total of 14. Both Dobkin and Rainbow’s PR had a “no-comment” on our query.

David adds: Since its founding in 2003, Gothamist has tried to fill the space between local newspapers and online guides like Citysearch, with a dash of Gawker-like snark thrown in from time to time. The rise of online directories and a stronger pushback from established city-specific sites tied to magazines like New York, has eroded Gothamist’s unique position over the years. After a succession of a dozen local sites, the company transferred ownership of its Torontoist outlet to local investors, suggesting that plans for a wider international rollout, aside from its London and Shanghai sites are problematic. With Rainbow Media behind it, Gothamist will likely have more reasons to scale back its expansion plans and focus more on cementing its dominance in the New York area, while supporting Newsday.

Staci adds: It would make more sense on some levels for Gothamist to turn up in Cablevision’s local media group headed by Tad Smith but the focus there so far has been very much on Long Island. Dobkin took part last week in a SXSW Interactive panel moderated by Evan Shapiro, president of IFC/Sundance. The subject? The value of indie content.