- Toronto-based publishing powerhouse in Canada across print and digital platforms
- Strategy to consolidate multiple smaller titles and drive readership to publications through engaging, innovative content
- Operates leading titles like NOW Magazine and The Georgia Straight
- Leveraging over 3 million print readers into online content
What Media Central does:
The Toronto-based firm touts itself as an independent, alternative media company that provides, as its website loudly proclaims, “media for the free generation.”
Today’s media landscape is highly fragmented, encompassing conglomerates that own multiple titles and smaller, independent titles with local readership. Media Central’s strategy is to consolidate multiple smaller titles in media markets across Canada and drive readership to its publications through engaging, innovative content.
Its flagship brand is a Toronto institution. NOW Magazine has been providing the city’s readers with local reporting, events information and editorial commentary over the paper’s storied history. With nearly 510,000 average weekly unique readers, the free publication is distributed to over 800 outlets each week.
The deal for NOW includes a $1 million cash payment contingent on the paper achieving certain metrics within a year of the deal closing. NOW reported a loss of $834,000 before deductions on revenue of $4.2 million in its most recent fiscal year.
Media Central plans to enhance NOW by introducing new content verticals and integrating it with its other property, CannCentral.com, a digital title that covers all things cannabis.
CannCentral features lifestyle stories around cannabis use and experiences, examining major trends in wellness, travel, food and drink and pop culture. Its editorial is supplemented with expert data on strains, origins and breeds of different cannabis plants.
Recently Media Central expanded its reach to the West Coast with the acquisition of The Georgia Straight, a weekly paper distributed across greater Vancouver that reaches around 2.7 million monthly readers.
Established as the news, lifestyle, and entertainment weekly in Vancouver over 50 years ago, the Georgia Straight is an “integral part of the active urban West Coast lifestyle,” according to the publishing house. Media Central will pay C$1.25 million (including fees associated with the transaction) in cash and shares for the publication.
How is it doing:
Since making its company-changing acquisitions, Media Central has reported increased readership, new revenue streams and triple-digit user growth across its titles.
Digital audience growth at NOW Magazine's nowtoronto.com increased by double digits in just one month. In addition to audience growth, NOW has seen significant shifts in other key audience and advertiser metrics, as measured by Google Analytics from December 31 to January 31.
The firm upgraded its digital properties to include online video capabilities in a bid to capitalize on the growing demand for various forms of news dissemination. NOW Magazine will be the first title to incorporate video journalism designed to reach a maximum audience.
The entry into the digital video space will open a new revenue stream for the media firm. The number of visitors to NOW’s online platform increased by 26% compared to the same three-month period in 2018.
The print issue of NOW, which is published weekly in Toronto, reported a 12% increase in readership, or an additional 176,000 readers.
Meanwhile, organic traffic at CannCentral.com saw triple-digit month-over-month growth. Traffic grew by 117% in December 2019 and 318% in January 2020, with a majority of visitors coming from the US at 51%, Canadian visitors totalling 11% and UK visitors comprising 10% of traffic.
On a corporate level, the company recently raised over $1.6 million through a convertible debt offering to fund its acquisition of The Georgia Straight.
- Closing acquisition of The Georgia Straight
- Increased traffic and readership driving revenue growth
- Further acquisitions of media properties
What the boss says:
Media Central CEO Brian Kalish told shareholders recently that leveraging readers into its digital properties is expected to yield “tremendous results.”
“Integrating Canncentral.com with NOW and nowtoronto.com has not only improved the user experience for those looking to engage with exclusive information about the world of cannabis, it has also dramatically increased traffic on Canncentral.com, providing advertisers with new opportunities to access expanded audiences that are otherwise difficult if not impossible to reach through traditional digital ad networks,” Kalish said in a statement.
"Canncentral and the other specialty digital publications expected to launch this year are driven by our targeted and highly influential readers. Building these publications into global brands remains a top priority for us."
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