While News Corp's buyout binge of social-networking startups is the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig, NBC is hitting up the makeup aisle itself, announcing a purchase of women's oriented site iVillage for $600 million. Predictably, NBC executives are talking up the potential for synergies and cross promotion (like putting Today show clips on child care up on iVillage.com). In reality, the deal gives NBC more ad inventory to goose online sales. Come next year things will look good assuming everyone forgets that $600 million was spent on those sales. Usually, the strategic or synergistic argument is used as a way to justify a bad merger in economic terms (think ebay/Skype), but in this case it's the opposite. The deal is okay, probably neutral from an economic standpoint, but NBC still needs to make itself look cool, so they trot out tired explanations. And as long as big media still feels the need to reinvent itself, without altering their business model in any way, these deals will continue with the same justification.
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