Coverage: Univision buys Gawker for $135 million
Univision won the bidding for blogging news company Gawker, paying $135 million for Nick Denton’s company forced into bankruptcy court protection after it lost a lawsuit for invasion of privacy from wrestler Hulk Hogan.
Peter Kafka of Recode has the news:
The TV network and digital publisher has agreed to pay $135 million for the bankrupt blog network, according to a person familiar with the deal.
Univision’s offer will encompass all seven of Gawker Media’s sites, including Gawker.com
Ziff Davis and Univision were the only two bidders for Gawker, which filed for bankruptcy after Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel won a $140 million judgment in a privacy case. Ziff Davis had originally offered $90 million for Gawker Media.
Here’s a statement from Gawker Media owner Nick Denton: “Gawker Media Group has agreed this evening to sell our business and popular brands to Univision, one of America’s largest media companies that is rapidly assembling the leading digital media group for millennial and multicultural audiences. I am pleased that our employees are protected and will continue their work under new ownership — disentangled from the legal campaign against the company. We could not have picked an acquirer more devoted to vibrant journalism.”
Stephen Battaglio of the Los Angeles Times explains why Univision wanted Gawker:
A takeover of Gawker Media contributes to Univision’s efforts to expand its digital media properties aimed at reaching younger consumers.
Earlier this year, Univision, which has been mulling an initial public offering for more than a year, took over ownership of the cable network Fusion, which targets millennial viewers. The company has recently added to its digital portfolio by taking stakes in online humor site the Onion and the African American news site the Root.
Gawker Media’s properties include the flagship gossip site Gawker, the female-oriented Jezebel, the sports site Deadspin, the tech-oriented Gizmodo and Jalopnik, which is aimed at auto enthusiasts.
Denton’s company was forced into bankruptcy this spring after a Florida jury awarded $140 million to Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan, who had sued Gawker for invasion of privacy.
Jessica DiNapoli of Reuters noted how Gawker influenced journalism:
Gawker and Denton were influential forces in the growth of online media, developing a direct, conversational and sometimes-slashing style that dispensed with many journalistic conventions and was widely imitated.
Its eagerness to dish salacious gossip was often condemned, but it was also one of the few early digital publishers to build a profitable independent business.
Univision owns a Spanish-language broadcast network that sometimes beats English language U.S. broadcasters such as NBC in the primetime ratings race. It also owns another broadcast channel called UniMas, as well as several cable networks and a stable of Spanish radio stations.
Univision, like many other media companies, has been aggressively courting millennial audiences. In 2013, it launched English-language TV network and website Fusion with Disney to target millennials across cultures, and earlier this year it acquired a minority stake in satirical web publisher Onion Inc.