Univision Communications may be looking to spin off Fusion Media Group — its digital-centric unit that includes the six Gawker Media websites it acquired last year — as it approaches prospective investors about taking a minority stake in the venture, Variety has confirmed.
Univision is seeking up to $200 million from investors to take a minority stake in FMG, per a report from Recode, which first broke the news.
Univision declined to explicitly confirm that it’s looking for outside investors for Fusion Media Group. “FMG is an important and growing part of our portfolio and we are committed to positioning it for continued success,” a rep said in a statement.
In a memo to FMG staff Thursday, group president Felipe Holguin addressed the potential for outside investment and said the exploration of new opportunities does not affect existing operations or plans. “With such a diverse array of properties like Gizmodo, Jezebel, The Onion, The Root, Deadspin, and our linear network, we know we have the scale to be an attractive investment for a number of entities,” he wrote.
Univision created the Fusion Media Group in April 2016, after Disney exited the Fusion cable and digital-media joint venture. Univision laid off more than 200 employees a year ago, many of them in the Fusion Media Group.
FMG’s Gizmodo Media Group brands are Gizmodo, Deadspin, TrackRecord, Lifehacker, Jezebel, Splinter, The Root, Kotaku, and Jalopnik. In addition, the Fusion Media Group includes the operations of Univision.com as well as the company’s interest in the Onion, Clickhole and The A.V. Club. FMG includes two cable networks — Fusion TV, a news and lifestyle English-language network, and Univision’s interest in El Rey Network — and a production studio.
At this point, Univision’s purchase of the Gawker assets in a bankruptcy auction for $135 million (which didn’t include the now-defunct Gawker.com) hasn’t resulted in substantial revenue growth.
For the third quarter of 2017, Univision said core digital advertising revenue for the period was $34.4 million, down 0.3% year over year on a pro-forma basis. For the first nine month of 2017, core digital ad sales were $95.6 million, up 2.9% year over year on a pro-forma basis.
Company execs have touted the scale and millennial-skewing reach of FMG’s collection of digital sites: The properties all together have over 110 million unique visitors monthly, up from 85 million a year ago. That’s currently an audience bigger than BuzzFeed, Vice Media, or Vox Media, according to comScore.
Fusion Media Group was formerly headed by Isaac Lee, who is now Univision Communications’ chief content officer.