Lost in the PMC/Finke/Deadline/Variety News: Michael Ausiello’s TVLine is a Traffic Powerhouse

Categories: TV Business

Written By

October 9th, 2012

The news that Jay Penske’s PMC bought Variety in an auction for $25 million has unsurprisingly unleashed the theme that upstart disruptor “Nikki Finke” vanquished Variety while comfortably typing in her underwear from her own bedroom. Finke deserves credit for that and it’s a great story.

The media establishment that writes about the TV business  doesn’t write nearly as much about Michael Ausiello or his TVLine site which is also under Penske’s PMC umbrella. But I’m a numbers junkie with a very healthy respect for big scale, things that scale big fast, and things that scale big efficiently. Hard work that produces great results? I have a lot of respect for that and that's pretty much TVLine’s story. Maybe that's not interesting enough of an angle to get much ink in the trades, but the results are most impressive.

The chart  below isn’t very easy to read but the top orange line is hollywoodreporter.com, the second line is tvline.com, the third line is deadline.com and the last line is hitfix.com.

If TVLine had been around for five years I’d still be darn impressed. But IT HAS DONE THIS IN LESS THAN TWO YEARS!  Less than two years! In less than 2 years, TVLine nearly has as many page views as The Hollywood Reporter. Though THR actually has a huge lead when it comes to the number of people visiting its site, TVLine’s readers are far more engaged than THR’s.

TVLine has a mere six FTEs (full-time equivalent employees) plus some support from parent company PMC.  THR has dozens of editors and staff. Of course, it also has a print publication, but still… it has more than a dozen editors just in its TV editorial group.

I included Deadline in the chart above because of the sibling nature, but Deadline isn’t a great comparison since it’s a trade rather than a general entertainment site. Deadline specifically targets trade advertising dollars, so those rooting against Finke & Deadline and seeing a ray of hope in the above chart are going to be disappointed. Deadline's efficiency is impressive too. But still, TVLine is approaching nearly double Deadline’s page views in less than two years and valid comparison or not, it’s eye-popping.

Quantcast limits comparisons like the one above to four sites at a time so  I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that there are entertainment sites with more traffic -- our partner Zap2it and Ausiello’s former EW among them. Those sites are doing great, but what impresses me most about TVLine’s trajectory is that it hasn’t even been around for two years and unlike sites like THR, Hitfix and Deadline, TVLine only focuses on the TV space rather than the broader entertainment space.  By comparison the other sites listed above cover the broader entertainment space and have been around longer - Deadline since 2006 and HitFix since late 2008.

Congrats to Michael Ausiello and the TVLine team on their impressive traffic.

  • joanie

    Wow, could you be any further up Ausiello’s ass?

  • john

    why not note how THR was effectively dead a few years ago and has reinvented itself both online and with the weekly magazine? those monthly numbers are huge considering their TV staff really only has a small handful of regular reporters.

  • Remote Patrolled

    TV Line is a pretty good site. Best thing about it is former EW writer Michael Slezak who’s the king of music competition shows…

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    THR employees?! For what I perhaps incorrectly figured would be obvious reasons, today is a PMC day. John, if by small handful you mean a staff that’s more than twice as big as all of TVLine, indeed.

  • Oliver

    A major reason TVLine does so well is its simple design based around a blog-style front page. It is much more readable than THR/Vulture/EW/AVC.

  • Steve Monreal

    Gold star for Ausiello. What’s your glitch joanie?

  • Tim

    Since we’re on the subject, can you guys do anything about Zap2it giving away plot details before the west coast has seen the program? I’ve written them and they really don’t seem to care. They made a bogus argument about where to draw the line and went on about foreign audiences. All I am asking is that they wait three hours before they regurgitate what has already aired. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve stopped visiting your site during prime time for fear I’ll read who was voted out of Survivor that night.

  • MattM

    Funny, I just unfollowed them on Twitter because all they do is post other people’s news.

  • Jim

    I have an internet trinity: TVBTN, TVline, and Deadline

  • jill pop

    That is pretty damn incredible for a site less than two years old! it is my go to site for info in TV. Ausiello and his staff break the most stories, have the best spoilers and best articles. i think it will only grow and overtake THR

  • John_M

    I enjoy deadline, but find TV Line poorly written, a bit too fanboyish and full of fluff and crap – i’d rather read TMX

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    I had hoped for a bit more Nikki Finke anger provoking and less Ausiello congratulating, but that’s just the way I am.

    For those wondering, TVBTN is at about half of Hitfix’s traffic shown above. Considering the relative staff sizes of everyone mentioned in this post, I’m happy to be where we are.

  • Lisa

    TvLine is a great site and must follow, along with EW. Absolutely love Matt Mitovich (sic).

  • halloween

    not surprising since tv sites like tvguide.com and zap2it have gone down the tubes…ew still pretty good

  • Melie

    @Tim People like you really annoy me! If you are on the west coast and don’t want to know what happens, why don’t you avoid social media and the internet?

    TVLine FTW btw….

  • Jared

    TVLine is the BEST tv website on the Internet. Period! The staff p, headlined by Ausiello, are fantastic at what they do and is the one site I visit most every day!

    Couldn’t be happier for them!

  • marc

    How is the AV Cub doing in comparison?

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Marc: looks like their doing very well to me. You can satisfy your curiosity at Quantcast.com

  • David

    I’m a huge AUSHOLE and you should be too. Michael Ausiello and his team are the best in the business. Not sure how Jay Penske got him away from EW.

  • DevdogAZ

    Can’t stand TVLine. The few times I’ve been there it seems all they have is tabloid-style stories about upcoming spoilers and sensationalized reviews and recaps. That’s not the type of TV reporting I’m interested in.

    And when I used to follow Ausiello on Twitter, he was routinely behind in breaking news when compared with all the other TV critics I follow. So I no longer follow or visit TVLine.

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