Updated at 4:50 pm ET with a statement from Defy Media.
Defy Media has sold off yet another digital property as it continues to drill down on its hallmark brands.
The Smosh and Clevver owner has sold The Escapist Magazine — a website focused on in-depth coverage of the video game industry — to Enthusiast Gaming, a Canada-based network of websites in the gaming space, which also operates a popular review channel on YouTube and a gaming expo called EGLX. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. As part of the sale, former Escapist editor-in-chief Russ Pitts — who departed the company to launch Polygon with Vox — is returning to the site’s helm.
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“Towards the end of 2017 I learned that The Escapist, then owned by Defy Media, would be coming up for sale,” Pitts recounted in a blog post. “It had been severely neglected. Almost everyone who had worked there had been laid off. The offices in North Carolina had been closed. Nobody was even bothering to sell ads on the thing. It was a derelict.”
Escapist launched in 2005, and garners 6 million monthly unique visitors, per Enthusiast. Alloy Digital (which would later become Defy) purchased the site in 2012 from Themis Media.
“Over the last few years, we have focused on and devoted more internal resources around our core consumer brands like Smosh, Clevver, and AweMe,” a Defy rep tells Tubefilter. “As part of that, we discontinued investment in the website The Escapist over a year ago. When presented with the opportunity to sell it to Enthusiast Gaming, a popular gaming community with similar sensibilities, we were open to it with the understanding that the brand alignment would ensure continued growth for the website. We’re excited to see what the future holds for The Escapist.”
The sale by Defy marks its second in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the company sold its flagship Screen Junkies brand — a TV, film, and pop culture hub that comprises the Honest Trailers YouTube channel — to Fandom. In March, Defy laid off 20 staffers on its programmatic advertising and licensing teams. At the time, the company denied reports that it was seeking to sell itself.