When the banter stops: Viral publisher Unilad braced to enter administration

Louis Ashworth
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A screenshot of Unilad’s homepage today (Source: Unilad)

The company behind Unilad, an internet news site known for its viral content, is set to go into administration – putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

A judge recommended the move after a court heard that the website’s parent, Bentley Harrington, had debts running up to £6m.

Alex Partridge, Unilad’s co-founder, echoed the call. Patridge said he was owned £5m by Bentley Harrington, which owes HMRC £1.5m.

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Lawyers representing the media firm agreed administration should go ahead, and suggested investors have already shown an interest in buying parts of the business. If it is broken apart and sold, the the amount paid for Unilad’s various Facebook pages – the largest of which has 39m ‘likes’ — will be an test of social media platform valuations.

Unilad, which was the social media giant’s fourth-largest publisher, rose to fame for its engagement-friendly content, many of which focused on student life and the intangible concept of “banter”.

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Its content has diversified significantly since then, and it now covers a range of topics, with a focus on “shareable” and “trending” topics.

Like several new media platforms, including its rival LADbible – which has not reported any financial issues – Unilad relied on on content which drew audience engagement – in particular, through reactions and comments – to perform when in the algorithm which determines what users see. Facebook has recently said it is changing its systems so that users see higher-quality video, putting the business model of platforms like Unilad at risk.

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