Weblogs Inc. to Shutter Some Small Blogs

Posted on January 20, 2007

Valleywag is reporting that AOL's Weblogs Inc. plans to shutter a number of its smaller blogs including BBHub, Divester, DV Guru and PVR Wire.

The wizardry of contextual advertising and blog publishing platforms will allow internet publications to flourish in a thousand niches. Well, that was the theory. The practice? AOL is closing down a slew of smaller blogs it bought from entrepreneur-provocateur and Valleywag staple, Jason Calacanis, in 2005. The bulk of AOL's ad revenues from its blog network, running at more than $1m a month according to Calacanis, come from a few star brands such as Engadget, Autoblog and Joystiq. They're in traditional broad categories: consumer electronics, autos and video games. The Time Warner internet unit has told editors of smaller and unprofitable sites that they will be shuttered at the end of the month. So far, we're hearing lesser-known titles such as BBHub, Divester, DV Guru and PVR Wire; do let us know about others, so we can establish a count. Grounds: budget cutbacks. The new publishing? Much like the old.
Nick Denton, who wrote this entry on Valleywag, admits to having an "aesthetic aversion to those blog networks which measure success in the quantity of titles rather than the quality of the writing." Blog networks that focus on quantity over quality will probably struggle as readers gravitate towards the best written blogs. It doesn't mean there are not opportunities in niche publishing but jumping around and publishing small niche blogs in several different categories probably isn't a very effective strategy for a single publisher.

For example, Krause Publications succeeded with print magazines in the unexciting hobby and craft niche by publishing dozens of craft-related titles. However, Krause never leaps outside this craft and hobby niche by randomly publishing niche magazines about yoga, hair care or DVRs. Individual bloggers and small publishers with little overhead costs should be able to profit with niche blogs providing they are one of the top blogs in the particular niche and they can get enough traffic to interest advertisers.

Jason Calacanis, the founder and former CEO of Weblogs, Inc., has a comment on the Valleywag post that says these blogs are probably being consolidated into other blogs:

My guess is they would consolidate DVGuru and PVRWire into Engadget and EngadgetHD, BBHUB into EngadgetMobile, and Divester into Gadling.

Niche blogs are great, but when you're running a scale business like AOL is you're better off focusing on your HUGE winners like Autoblog, Engadget, Joystiq, etc.

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