Vox Media Raises $200 Million From NBCUniversal to Fuel Its TV Ambitions

Companies Plan to Collaborate on Video, Advertising

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The pot of money pouring into digital media companies keeps getting bigger.

Less than a year after raising $46.5 million, Vox Media has signed a $200 million investment deal with Comcast's NBCUniversal. The deal values the parent company of Vox.com, The Verge and Re/code at $1 billion, a person with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg News.

NBCUniversal declined to comment beyond a statement released on Wednesday. And Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff declined to discuss the deal's valuation in an interview with Ad Age. However he did shed a little light on how the two companies plan to work together in the wake of the deal.

"We're cooperating on a number of levels: video, they're going to be leveraging Chorus in ways that we'll determine, we'll cross-promote one another, and yes, advertising is a big part of this for sure. We're not at the point where we're ready to announce any details," Mr. Bankoff said.

The relationship with NBCUniversal -- which has an ownership stake in Hulu, in addition to its portfolio of TV networks -- should be a boost to Vox Media's growing video business, which expanded earlier this year with the addition of its Los Angeles-based studio Vox Entertainment. Mr. Bankoff wouldn't go too much into detail about how Vox Media and NBCUniversal will collaborate on video programming, though the two companies will do that. But he alluded to Vox's TV ambitions.

"When you talk about video, there's a lot to unpack. There's great web video that we produce on our sites, on Facebook, on YouTube and other places. And then there's longer form video that can be distributed across OTT platforms, across linear TV network platforms," Mr. Bankoff said. Asked whether Vox has TV ambitions as that latter sentence suggests, he said that "we have ambitions to be wherever the audience is."

The deal is the latest in a series in which traditional entertainment companies have invested in online properties to capture the growth in digital advertising and hedge their bets in a rapidly changing media world.

A+E Networks, a joint venture of The Walt Disney Company and Hearst, paid $250 million for a 10% stake in Vice last year, while Hearst alone invested in online video network AwesomenessTV.

-- Bloomberg News with Ad Age staff

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