Hollywood trade magazine Variety up for sale

LOS ANGELES — Variety, a trade magazine that has covered Hollywood for more than 100 years, is up for sale.

Its owner, a unit of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, announced the decision Friday in a story on Variety’s website.

Reed Business Information Chief Executive Mark Kelsey said in a statement that it makes sense to sell the business, just as Reed has sold its other U.S. print magazines. Reed sold book trade magazine Publisher’s Weekly in 2010 and pay TV industry magazine Multichannel News in 2009. It is also selling its Australian business publications.

Kelsey said Reed is increasingly focused on business data services.

Variety, which dates back to 1905, is facing stiff competition covering the business of Hollywood from websites such as Deadline and The Wrap, as well as The Hollywood Reporter, its longtime rival that was revamped in 2010 under new ownership.

Faced with the onslaught of Web-based news outlets, Variety put its online content behind a “paywall” in early 2010, ending an experiment with free online content that it began in October 2006.

It also ramped up the number of industry-focused conferences it hosts, and tried last year to compete with Amazon.com Inc.’s movie information site, IMDb.com, by selling a data tool called FlixTracker. Despite those innovations, most of Variety’s revenue still comes from advertising.

In a memo to staff on Friday, Variety President Neil Stiles said he would lead the sale process while working with Reed Business and a broker.

“I am confident that under new ownership, we will be able to continue to build on our achievements,” he said.

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