NBCUniversal Invests $200 Million in Vox Media

Courtesy of NBC; AP Images
Stephen Burke & Jim Bankoff

Parent company Comcast already has a stake in Vox Media through its investment arm, Comcast Ventures.

NBCUniversal has invested $200 million in news organization Vox Media, the companies announced Wednesday. 

The deal, which was reported in July, brings Vox's total funding to more than $300 million, including a nearly $47 million round raised last December. Prior to the deal, NBCU parent company Comcast held a 14 percent stake in Vox through its investment arm, Comcast Ventures. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the deal values Vox at $805 million pre-money, meaning that after the investment the company is worth somewhere in the $1 billion range.

"Vox Media has a great portfolio of premium digital brands that deeply engage broad audiences," said NBCU CEO Steve Burke. "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." 

This new round of financing, Vox's largest yet, gives the company fuel to grow its portfolio of news, tech and culture websites. The company began with sports-focused SB Nation and later branched out to tech news with Polygon and The Verge. In the last two years, it has expanded its network significantly, acquiring the Curbed network of sites, launching Vox.com and most recently acquiring Re/Code. Vox has also placed a premium on video, opening a Los Angeles-based entertainment division with an eye for developing short-form content for digital and traditional-length content for television distribution. 

"We're excited to enter the partnership with NBCUniversal," Bankoff tells THR. "The investment helps align incentives around a really strong operating partnership. We are excited to build a strong, independent company." 

NBCU has been increasingly focused on the digital space in recent months in an effort to attract younger audiences who are more prone to watching short video clips than linear television. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the media conglomerate was considering investments in several companies, including Vice Media and BuzzFeed. Re/Code reports that NBCU has also finalized a deal to invest $200 million in BuzzFeed. A spokeswoman for NBCU declined to comment.

Vox's relationship with NBCU will grow beyond just the investment. Bankoff says that the two companies hope to collaborate on a number of different initiatives, including the development of programming for both digital and linear distribution. He says he sees opportunities to create franchises that could benefit from NBCU's production and distribution capabilities. "It's going to be great to partner with one of the biggest television and film companies in the world and have opportunities to extend our brand with great storytelling and programming," Bankoff says.

Given Vox's push into entertainment, it seems likely that the company would use its relationship with NBCU to expand into television the way Vice Media has with programming on HBO and, soon, its own cable channel, but Bankoff declined to comment on such plans. 

The companies will also work together on advertising and will explore bundling opportunities for brands across their properties, say, a campaign that targets sports audiences across SB Nation and NBC Sports. Vox will also open looking into opportunities to give NBCU access to its Chorus content management system, and will find ways to cross promote content across like brands.  

Aug. 12, 1:54 p.m. Updated with response from NBCUniversal.

Aug. 12, 5:50 p.m. Updated with additional information about the deal and quotes from Vox CEO Jim Bankoff. 

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