Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal will make a $200 million strategic investment in Vox Media, upping its stake in the digital-media firm and creating a partnership to help the television giant better connect with younger audiences, the companies said Wednesday.
The equity investment will give Vox a post-money valuation of about $1 billion, said a person familiar with the situation.
Comcast, which already owned roughly 14% of Vox through its venture-capital arm and other units, will increase its holdings but remain a minority investor, the person said. The exact size of Comcast’s ownership stake wasn’t immediately clear because some earlier investors’ stakes will be reduced, a process that isn’t yet finalized, the person said.
NBCUniversal, which owns channels such as USA, Bravo, E! and MSNBC, has struggled like other media companies with declining viewership among younger audiences who are increasingly watching video online and dropping cable connections. Vox Media, which is made up of eight websites focused on sports, politics, food, fashion and technology, has gained strong traction among younger readers, with 41% of its combined 54.1 million unique visitors in June falling between the ages of 18 and 34, according to comScore Inc.
“Vox Media has a great portfolio of premium digital brands that deeply engage broad audiences,” Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal, said. “Vox Media has strong leadership, top editorial talent and a unique technology platform. We are excited to be making this investment and building a collaborative partnership involving editorial content, advertising and technology.”
Comcast had been scouting out investments in several new-media companies recently. Late last month, people familiar with the matter said NBCUniversal was close to making a $250 million minority investment in BuzzFeed, a site that also has a large audience among younger readers. In June, 54% of BuzzFeed’s 79.6 million unique visitors were between the ages of 18 and 34, a demographic that advertisers covet, comScore said. The deal would value BuzzFeed at approximately $1.5 billion, the people said.
Comcast’s investment will allow Vox to significantly boost its video capabilities and potential distribution channels, said Vox Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Bankoff.
“NBCUniversal is obviously a huge television and entertainment company, so there are a lot of assets they can provide with distribution and production both online and on linear networks as well,” he said in an interview. “Our industry is evolving so quickly, and we think this will give us the resources to be independent and strong throughout all the changes.”
Mr. Bankoff said that the partnership will also look to tap Vox’s ability to create branded content for advertisers and potentially expand that into other areas of the NBCUniversal empire. There will also be a focus on finding ways to expand Vox’s technology platforms—particularly its well-regarded Chorus content management and analytic system—into other parts of the television company.
The investment isn’t the only infusion that Vox has received in the last year. In December, it secured a $46.8 million investment from General Atlantic, valuing the company at $380 million. Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, Vox had raised a total of $107.6 million in seven investment rounds.
Last year, Vox took in $60 million in revenue and was profitable, according to people familiar with the situation.
In May, Vox acquired Re/code, the technology site that was launched in January 2014 partly with backing from NBCUniversal News Group.