CraveOnline Buys Two Hockey Fan Sites; Keeps Craving For More

This story was written by David Kaplan.
Male-focused online entertainment network CraveOnline and its parent AtomicOnline have been on an acquisition tear lately. The company tells paidContent that has completed its fifth and sixth site purchases in the past seven months, the independent pro ice hockey fan sites HockeysFuture & HFBoards just in time for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Terms were not disclosed. In the past, the company has tended to pay a minimum of $500,000 for a site to somewhere in the low millions. CraveOnline raised $50 million last year and is considering an additional round in the second half of this year.

HockeysFuture, founded in 1997, mainly focuses on NHL draft and rookie prospects. In addition to serving as a community hub for 30 NHL fan sites, it also features a webcast devoted solely covering games and news. Separately from Hockeys Future, HFBoards debuted in 2002 and offers a wider view on the world of pro ice hockey, with a discussion board that extends from the U.S. to all the countries in Europe. AtomicOnline currently owns and is affiliated with over 110 sites.

The two hockey sites, which will continue to remain distinct from each other, fill a void that had previously existed on CraveOnline, joining basketball "culture" site HoopsVibe, which CraveOnline bought last month. Mike Dodge, AtomicOnline's VP/GM: "We were looking for sites that could offer, unique deep coverage of the sport and had an established community. We're always looking for top affinity sites like HoopsVibe or HockeyFutures. We're also continuing to try to add fashion sites as well." The company hopes to close several other deals by the end of summer.  In at least half of its acquisitions, the sites' senior managers stay to continue to run the sites, Dodge said. 

By David Kaplan