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NBC Bets $200 Million on BuzzFeed

NBCUniversal continues its big-bucks leap to catch up to millennial “cord-cutters” and “cord-nevers” by spending another $200 million to buy a bigger stake in BuzzFeed. The move comes less than a week after NBCUniversal invested $200 million in Vox Media.

According to leaked internal documents obtained by Gawker last week, BuzzFeed’s revenue tripled from 2012 to 2013 and reached $46 million in the first six months of 2015.

Re/code, a unit of Vox Media, reported that BuzzFeed was raising $200 million from NBCUniversal at the jaw-dropping valuation of $1.5 billion. NBCU’s recent deal with Vox valued the company at $1.05 billion.

The new NBCU private placement represents a 76 percent vault in BuzzFeed’s valuation in a year. BuzzFeed raised $50 million in a fifth-round Series E funding last summer, at a valuation of only $850 million, led by top VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.

NBCU also paid more than triple the prior $300 million in VC paid-in-capital value of Vox Media, according to “Re/code.com” sources.

The official BuzzFeed website announcement stated:

NBCUniversal and BuzzFeed today announced that NBCUniversal has agreed to make a $200M equity investment in BuzzFeed, the technology-driven global media company that reaches over 200M monthly unique visitors and 1.5B monthly video views.

BuzzFeed’s Executive Chairman Kenneth Lerer told Business Insider, “BuzzFeed and NBCUniversal will be great strategic partners and we both have a lot to offer the other.” He added, “We look forward to collaborating on television content, movies, the Olympics, and joint partnerships with ad agencies and brands.”

Breitbart News reported on Friday that Comcast, NBCU’s parent is going through a major restructure as the “New Wave” news sites’ audience continues to grow at a much faster pace than traditional media.

NBC announced last week that it will straighte up MSNBC’s left-wing slant and make a $200 million investment in in Vox Media.

Top players like Breitbart attract conservatives; Vox gets the populist crowd, BuzzFeed entertains with a mix of addictive animal videos and some news reports; Vice offers less-filtered news video; and Fusion provides both irreverence and context on the news of the day.

All are aiming to win significant shares of the millennial market. Similar in size to the baby boomers market, that segment runs in age between 14 and 34, with a total population of about 78 million in the United States.

Evidence of the seriousness of Comcast’s move includes NBC management last week leaking that MSNBC will abandon its “Lean Forward” branding in its upcoming reset to focus on Brian Williams’ rolling breaking news throughout the day.

The perpetually third-ranked cable news network made clear it is giving up the ghost of chasing a socialist/progressive audience by directing MSNBC to sweep the leftist troika of “The Ed Show,” “Now with Alex Wagner,” and “The Cycle” into the dustbin of history.

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