The soap opera-like battle over Gawker turned into a telenovela Tuesday as a number of news sources reported that Spanish-language broadcaster Univision has won a bid to acquire the assets of Gawker Media, marking an end to founder Nick Denton’s reign of the controversial publisher of Web sites, including aptly named flagship Gawker.com.
As much as the deal seems to end one story arc, it builds on another one: Univision’s diversification of hip digital media assets known for their popularity among Anglo Millennials. When Univision acquired satirical news publisher The Onion in January, many observers said, “que?”
Or as Publishers Daily Editor Erik Sass commented in a post at that time: “The two media companies seem at first glance to have precisely nothing to do with each other — and that’s the point. Univision is buying The Onion, in part, because of its substantial millennial following. Its own broadcast TV audience ages.”
Noting that Univision had previously acquired African-American Millennial market publisher The Root just the year before, Sass said that the diversification is part of an intentional strategy to broaden Univision’s base, and its reach too. And not just to Anglo Millennials, but also to mainstream media outlets that are prone to give more attention and coverage to snarky media outlets like Gawker and The Onion than the core Spanish-language news and entertainment content Univision is normally associated with. And that will likely raise the company's overall profile on Madison Avenue.
By comparison, Univision’s acquisition of Gawker seems like a good deal. Univision reportedly paid $200 million for a 40% stake in The Onion, but reportedly acquired the assets of Gawker for $135 million as part of a bankruptcy sale, to help settle wrestler Hulk Hogan’s successful $140 million defamation suit against Gawker.That beat Ziff Davis’ reported $90 million bid for Gawker, and expands Univision’s portfolio to include Gawker Media’s Deadspin, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, as well as Gawker.com.