Zondervan acquires Biblegateway, Gospel.com

BibleGatewayChristian publishing giant and EPA business affliate member Zondervan is expanding its online presence by acquiring BibleGateway.com, the world's most widely used Bible reference site, from Gospel Communications Inc. Zondervan also acquired the Gospel.com domain from Gospel Communications.Zondervan plans to expand BibleGateway, incorporating additional Scripture reference materials and study tools. "Our vision is for BibleGateway.com to be the premier online aggregator of Biblical resources, blending relevant content and community features for anyone searching for information to help them in their spiritual journey, wherever they may be," said Moe Girkins, Zondervan president and CEO.

Zondervan publishes the New International Version of the Bible, which was already the default version used by BibleGateway. Gerkins said Zondervan would work with other Bible publishers to increase the content available through the site, and added that Zondervan was not planning to use the purchase to give the NIV some sort of unfair advantage. He told Christianity Today, "Our vision at Zondervan is not to get a bigger piece of the industry. Our vision is to create a much bigger Christian industry by working with other content providers."

Gospel.com provided Web hosting to hundreds of Christian ministries, but discontinued that service last fall in the face of significant financial losses. Zondervan does not plan to resurrect the hosting ministry, but will maintain the Gospel.com site as a link to ministry sites which have found new hosting.

BibleGateway.com announced plans to accept advertising through the Christian Advertising Network, which is part of Strang Communications. An exclusive agreement between Zondervan and Strang calls for the Strang network to be the sole sales agent for ads which appear on the popular BibleGateway.com site.

About 14 million people a month visit BibleGateway.com. More than 80 Bible versions in 50 languages are accessible to readers, who view as many as 100 million online pages per month. Google and MySpace direct the most traffic to the site, after BibleGateway’s own search engine.

“We're very excited about this deal with Zondervan. It's one of the biggest deals in the history of our company,” said Stephen Strang, founder and CEO of Strang Communications. “Advertisers are already lining up to test advertising on this Web site. It's a great opportunity for advertisers, as well as for introducing a lot of Christian products and Bible-based products to the millions of people who visit this site.”

The Christian Advertising Network (www.strangadvertising.com) has grown rapidly in the last year to become the largest advertising brokerage in the country for Christian Internet sites. The one deal with BibleGateway will almost double the inventory of the network, which includes Bible.org, ChristianNetcast.com, ChristianCinema.com, MyChurch.org and CharismaMag.com.