Viacom Makes A Play For Internet Children

    June 20, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

The entertainment and media company picks up Neopets Inc for a deal rumored to be worth $160 million USD.

NeoPets has been one of the most popular sites for children on the Internet. The privately-held company now becomes one of Viacom’s most popular children’s sites, after its acquisition as reported in the Wall Street Journal today.

Viacom Makes A Play For Internet Children

NeoPets boasts a membership of around 25 million users, and annual revenue from ads and merchandising reaching eight figures, according to chairman Doug Dohring.

With more individuals, including children, moving online and away from traditional media presences for entertainment, that combination had to be too tempting for Viacom to pass by.

Viacom notably owns MTV and Nickelodeon, well-known names to teens and kids today. But Viacom has been relatively weak in terms of its Internet presence.

And with a multi-billion dollar online advertising market in play, the NeoPets purchase gives the recently split Viacom a company that makes 60 percent of its revenue from ads.

NeoPets figures in markets beyond the Internet. Plush toys based on its characters can be found in Target stores.

Sony Computer Entertainment will develop videogames based on them, while a Time Warner-produced movie is in production.

The acquisition demonstrates Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone’s commitment to moving into faster growing enterprises. The recent split of Viacom’s broadcast TV and radio from its cable channels business was the first step, as Viacom sees the cable business as a high growth area.

The Internet would be another high growth presence, one where Viacom has had minimal impact. But NeoPets will change that very quickly. Nielsen/NetRatings rates NeoPets as one of the top ten stickiest sites on the Web, with more than seven billion page views per month.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.