Today Nikki Finke put out a press release claiming that her Hollywood gossip site Deadline.com attracts a bigger audience than Variety and The Hollywood Reporter combined. We're dubious but were going to stay quiet. But nothing about Finke's ever simple.
One of my pet theories about the mystique surrounding Nikki Finke — beyond her own exquisite ability to involve herself in every story she writes on her site — is that she has intentionally or not devised an ingenious strategy of dealing with the people who write about her. Journalists tend to be naturally concilliatory creatures. As they report and write their stories, they try to negotiate middle-ground ways to say things so that they have plenty of cover when their sources get upset after they publish. Finke, backed by a reputation of being fairly litigious, slyly plays into this trait by barraging anyone who's taken on the task of writing about her with so many complaints, insults, and veiled threats that the "middle ground" becomes her side of the ledger. And then, she shits on the writer anyway. It's pretty effective.
Anyway, Nikki Finke has been pretty upset with Gawker's coverage of her over the last few months. To recap:
- In June I scoffed at the anonymously sourced reports that she had sold her blog to Jay Penske's Mail.com for $15 million. Later stories which she's cooperated with have confirmed what my source told me at the time.
- In September, John Cook tallied up the frequent number of times that Finke has called in sick to the readers of her site. As I happened to be on vacation at the time he posted that, I was somewhat sympathetic with her gripes about that one.
- In October, Ryan Tate wrote about her niche-sized traffic stats pegged to the fact that her site, which she moved from Deadlinehollywooddaily.com to Deadline.com after her deal with Penske, had just gone on Quantcast, the traffic-counting service that we consider the gold-standard for stats.
- That same day, we offered a $1,000 bounty for a recent picture of Finke because the only ones we've only ever seen two, and certainly someone must have a photo laying around that's been taken since the turn of the millenium? That prize remains unclaimed. (Have a snap? Please email me!)
- A few weeks later, John got a pretty excellent catch in his RSS reader showing Finke changing a box office report on Michael Jackson concert doc This Is It showed how she went from "extraordinary" to "disappointing" after she heard some spin from a rival studio.
- And then, in November when Finke's great scoop about Oprah Winfrey quitting her syndicated show panned out, a tipster pointed out to John that a transcript of Winfrey's announcement that Finke posted had been cut and pasted from a Chicago Tribune blogger.
So that brings us to today. When she posted a press release claiming that "Deadline.com's Deadline/Hollywood by Nikki Finke now has a larger readership than Variety and The Hollywood Reporter combined," I was intrigued. The release cites figures from comScore claiming that Deadline.com had 1.1 million uniques in November, compared to 515,000 at Variety.com and 336,000 at HollywoodReporter.com. But different services can give wildly different counts and Compete.com actually has Variety.com over Deadline.com for November.
There is no doubt that Finke had a great November. And Quantcast's monthly uniques are roughly in line with comScore's but their daily figures (see the chart at the top) suggest that much of it was driven by that Oprah spike and her numbers will come back down pretty soon. On Nov. 23, her best day according to Quantcast (see the chart at top), she had 330,000 unique visitors. But since then, traffic has settled back down under 100,000, which is roughly the territory where Quantcast puts Finke's trade competitors. There's nothing wrong with making traffic boasts, but seeing as how the data wasn't as clear cut as Finke's press release made it sound, I passed on posting an item about it.
She, of course, saw this as a personal slight, sending in an angry email falsely accusing Ryan of using the wrong numbers in his traffic item back in October (he used the right ones) and never calling her for comment (we have).
A semi-heated exchange ensued. And when I started writing this, I had planned on posting the whole thing. But now it just seems so tiresome. See how Finke's magic works?
P.S. Nikki: I sent you an invite to comment. It will make you a star commenter and anything you post will go straight onto the site.