E.W. Scripps Pays $39 Million for Cracked

On the heels of The CW resurrecting the Mad-magazine-branded MadTV, E.W. Scripps said it was paying $39 million in cash to Demand Media for 58-year-old multi-platform satire brand Cracked.

The collection of mobile apps, a high-traffic website, plus original digital video, social media and a popular podcast, joins a growing digital and OTT stable at Scripps, which includes properties like Newsy and Midroll Media 

“Cracked is the expert in using clever humor to engage a younger audience that is very loyal to its brand,” said Rich Boehne, chairman, president and CEO of Scripps. “Its editorial vision brings a fresh perspective to the way the next generation creates and consumes news, information and entertainment.”

Traffic rankings by comScore put Cracked in the top tier of digital humor-focused brands, giving it a strong following among younger consumers, especially affluent millennial males. It regularly ranking first or second among comedy sites, with 50% of Cracked.com’s audience coming directly to the site. Users spend an average of 8 minutes engaging with the text and video, making it attractive to advertisers, Scripps said.

The digital landscape is fairly crowded with other brands aiming to reach young millennial men through comedy--among them, Funny or Die, College Humor and The Onion. In the linear TV world, which increasingly overlaps with the world of digital and OTT video, there are stalwarts like Comedy Central, IFC and Adult Swim continually refreshing their content offerings. Adam Symson, chief digital officer for Scripps, acknowledged in an interview with B&C that there is "not much protection from competition in the digital world," but he pointed to the inroads of Newsy, the local-news aggregator which has "jumped over barriers to entry" to add key distribution platforms of late. He added, "The other humor brands are all really good, they all make you laugh. But Cracked really goes above and beyond to make you smarter."

The Cracked team will continue to operate out of its offices in Santa Monica, Calif., and will be led by Mandy Ng Rusin, general manager and vice president, and Jack O’Brien, vice president and editor-in-chief.