In an overdue move, Rolling Stone is taking back control of its flagship web site from RealNetworks, and will be relaunching it in January with new community and customization features. 10 years ago during the web's infancy, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner leased RollingStone.com to the more net savvy RealNetworks. The result has been a site not well connected to the magazine and traffic stuck around 2 million monthly unique visitors.
While real profits from content on the web are still in the future, Wenner appears to have realized that it's time to play catch up before its too late. “I think there was the concept of, let’s partner with a company that had experience in this space early on,” Wenner media head Steven Schwartz told MediaWeek. “A lot of companies spent a lot of money in trial and error mode.” But, he amitted, “It hasn’t evolved nearly as much as we’d like it to.”
The Rolling Stone defection represents another small blow to Real; who have failed to gain traction in recent months with a number of iniatives.