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Dilbert leaves United Media for Universal Uclick (UPDATED)
Dilbert is getting a new manager. Universal Uclick will begin syndicating Scott Adam’s Dilbert in June and will take over Dilbert.com on January 1.
This announcement is a big one and one wonders how United Media, who grew the famous office strip into one of the most widely syndicated strips in the world, could let it get away. Earlier this year, Universal Uclick announced that it was taking over the syndication of Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. Dilbert and Peanuts are/were the biggest titles in the United Media portfolio.
The press release is skimpy on details other than the typical canned statements of praise. Scott mentions Universal as the industry leader and Hugh Andrews, president and CEO of Andrews McMeel Publishing, notes that the syndicate has the unique position of being a book publisher, syndicate (print/web) and mobile app provider for its features. That is a big advantage that other syndicates will struggle to compete against in the future.
More details to follow as I get them.
UPDATE: I’ve received a response from from United Media regarding the sale. They clarified one item that wasn’t clear to me before. When Iconix bought the rights to Peanuts and Dilbert last spring, they bought the properties – not just the licensing rights as I had earlier understood. Once the sale was complete, Iconix had the right to move the strips to another syndicate if they wished. Iconix signed with Universal Uclick to host Dilbert.com. My contact at United tells me that that it was “not a surprise to us that the syndication went there as well.” The transition of the property has been ongoing for several months already with Universal slated to take complete control of the syndication the end of June.
CLARIFICATION: In my post above I use the phrase that United let these properties “get away” as if the creators or their families were unhappy and left. I am reminded that the parent company of United Media, EW Scripps willingly sold the properties. It was up to Iconix (and I suspect the creators and families) that determined where the strips landed.