Most recently The Onion has been in the news as the website which originated the “Sluts” video which led to Lee Abrams’ ouster from The Tribune Company. That’s apparently not dissuading other major newspapers from partnering with the satirical news content company.
Four media organizations teamed up with The Onion in the past four days, the company announced on Monday (10/25): Austin American-Statesman, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Wisconsin State Journal and The Denver Post.
Under the terms of each deal, the local newspaper partner will handle business management responsibilities, including advertising sales, printing and distribution. The Onion said it maintains exclusive rights and responsibility for all creative content.
The Onion began opening itself up to franchise and partnership opportunities over the last year as a means of expanding the paper’s distribution nationwide. The plan was to attract business partners within the eight markets where The Onion currently publishes and grow from there.
This past summer, The Onion joined forces with The Chicago Tribune, making Chicago the first partnership market. Under the new arrangements, Austin, Denver-Boulder, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Madison all will become part of the new partnership program, covering six of the eight original markets.
“These new business partnerships are win-win situations,” said Steve Hannah, President and CEO of The Onion. “We get to concentrate on doing what we do best: creating award-winning comedy and pop culture content for a young, educated, conspicuously consuming audience nationally and internationally. Meanwhile, our partners get to add an iconic brand to their media portfolio and reach the most coveted demographic in advertising – at least until their printing presses have to be sold off to satisfy creditors.” [OK, we admit we threw in that last phrase in the tradition of The Onion’s “news reporting.”]
According to The Onion, the core of its brand is content creation. This long-term plan allows the company to maintain its print roots while simultaneously embarking on new endeavors online and in broadcast television. The video arm of the company, which won a Peabody Award in 2009, is currently producing two television shows – one for Comedy Central and one for the Independent Film Channel (IFC) – based on Onion Sports Network and Onion News Network, respectively. Both shows are scheduled to debut in the first quarter of 2011. Meanwhile, The Onion’s pop-culture focused publication, The A.V. Club, which has seen a 400% increase in traffic in recent years, continues to expand its online video offerings, including the wildly popular, “A.V. Undercover” music series.
Founded in 1988, The Onion began as a student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since then, the company has grown to become a multimedia brand, reaching fans through print, broadcast, radio, and online outlets as well as mobile apps.
RBR-TVBR observation: Come to think of it, we haven’t heard of the Tribune Company cutting its ties with The Onion due to its video which so demeaned women that it couldn’t be tolerated in the Tribune Tower. Strange, huh?