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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Media Mating Dance Ensues

SAN FRANCISCO -- News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch has a $5 billion crush on the owner of The Wall Street Journal.

Thomson Corp. is interested in Reuters, and Microsoft, at least fleetingly, appeared to flirt once again with Yahoo.

The media mating dance that broke out this week is part of a mad scramble not just to provide the content, but to find the right mix of technology and business savvy to remain relevant and profitable amid the upheaval wrought by the rise of the World Wide Web.

Even mighty Microsoft -- the world's most valuable technology company and a catalyst in the personal computer revolution -- seems uncertain about its ability to cope on its own. It currently trails both Google and Yahoo in the lucrative and growing business of selling and displaying ads linked to search terms.

The Wall Street Journal doused merger speculation late Friday by citing unidentified sources who said the talks of a possible combination had been terminated for a second time in as many years. The newspaper said the sources were "familiar with the situation."

Although he doubts the deal will get done, Standard & Poor's equity analyst Scott Kessler understands why it might make sense for Microsoft and Yahoo to get together.

"They both have a lot of users, but their problem has been translating that into higher revenue and profits. Neither has been doing it as well as Google," he said.

Any discussion about the media's challenges and opportunities these days usually involves Google, whose Internet-leading search engine has become the World Wide Web's biggest moneymaking vehicle as well as an influential gateway to other online destinations.

As the operators of the second- and third-largest search engines behind Google, Microsoft and Yahoo obviously may be trying to figure out if they would be better off trying to gang tackle the industry leader. Yet even if they were to combine, Microsoft and Yahoo would still trail Google in the lucrative search engine race.

"[This deal] has to be about creating something more powerful, something they could do better than Google," said Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li.

Google's whirlwind success after just 9 years in business also has galvanized other media trying to plumb new revenue channels in hopes of approaching Google's outlandish profit margins.

As News Corp.'s audacious CEO, Murdoch has been leading the more established media's charge on to the Internet. In 2005, he bought the leading online social network, MySpace.com, for $580 million.

The Internet factored into News Corp.'s surprising $5 billion bid for Dow Jones & Co., which owns The Wall Street Journal as well as the Dow Jones Newswires and Barron's.

While the print version of The Wall Street Journal has been the leading U.S. business newspaper for years, the online edition's ability to attract subscribers may be even more compelling.

In an era where most news content on the Internet remains free, The Wall Street Journal boasts 931,000 subscribers who pay $79 to $99 annually to read the paper.