Tribune, Gannett Partner On Metromix Entertainment Network

Gannett and Tribune Company's Tribune Interactive division have partnered to launch Metromix LLC -- expanding Tribune's already established network of local entertainment and activity sites. The network will exist as an independently operated joint venture headquarted in Chicago -- with Tribune vet Kara Walsh signed on as the company's CEO.

Metromix sites are currently available in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other large Tribune markets. Visitors can find info on restaurants, bars and clubs, movies and other local events, as well as user ratings, reviews and photos.

The blend of local search, event marketing and social networking attracts both local and national advertisers -- and Metromix offers standard text and display ads, as well as custom sponsorship opportunities, like the recent "skinning" of the LA site's main interface by the HD video channel MOJO.

"[Tribune has] a history of partnering with Gannett on local business and aggregating their content on a national scale," said Walsh, "but we saw that the future success of Metromix as a network was tied to building a completely separate entity."

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Advertisers have the option to buy ads across the network locally or nationally, in specific categories like nightlife or restaurants, as well as remnant inventory via third-party ad networks. Walsh added that the company plans to offer local businesses the option to enhance their listings, as well as to include mobile and email marketing options.

In the coming months, Metromix will beef up the site's online video offering, adding a combination of original as well as syndicated content. The company's national content group (including video production) will remain based in Los Angeles.

In terms of competition that Metromix faces from established competitors like CitySearch, deep vertical sites like RottenTomatoes.com, or local social networks such as Yelp, Walsh noted that the company is an amalgam that gives users the info they're searching for--and businesses a unique way to penetrate the market.

"It's a fun, dynamic space with multiple categories of competitors," said Walsh, "but we have an actual content team in each and every market, we take an umbrella approach to all aspects of local entertainment--and we offer the combination of both user-generated and professional content."

Gannett's future free-standing local entertainment sites will be branded under the Metromix name--and though details were not disclosed, both parties worked out revenue-sharing agreements for current and future sites. *

* This story was modified after its original posting.

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