For Woven, HitFix’s focus on 18- to 34-year-old consumers passionate about movies and TV shows will expand the company’s reach into the highly sought demo, said CEO Colin Digiaro. Other Woven-owned properties include pop-culture site Uproxx, which it acquired in 2014, and dude-oriented BroBible.
“It’s difficult for standalone websites to really break through,” said Woven CEO Colin Digiaro. “But as part of a larger company, the ad opportunities and distribution opportunities get bigger.”
In March 2016, HitFix had 3.9 million unique visitors in the U.S., while Woven Digital tallied 33.1 million, according to comScore. HitFix claims that it reaches an audience of 300 million each month across HitFix.com, HitFix-branded channels on YouTube and Facebook, and via other partners.
Digiaro said the deal came together in recent months in talks with HitFix co-founder and CEO Jennifer Sargent. “It was evident how passionate Jen and her team are for entertainment news,” he said. “They fit well with the vision for Woven… and we thought it made sense to work together.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed; Digiaro said the acquisition comprised a mix of cash and equity. With the acquisition HitFix’s 17 employees are joining Woven, including Sargent, editor-in-chief Richard Rushfield, CTO Anurag Jain and TV critic Alan Sepinwall. (Last summer, Variety hired Kristopher Tapley, who had served as editor-at-large for HitFix with his film awards blog In Contention.)
HitFix had raised $6.8 million, per CrunchBase. The company’s investors included Gordon Crawford, Golden Seeds, Angel Capital Entrepreneurial Fund, Liquid Capital Group and Tech Coast Angels. In 2008, Sargent co-founded HitFix with Gregory Ellwood, who left the company last September.
Woven plans to boost HitFix’s video output, with higher production quality and frequency, said Digiaro, who stepped into the CEO role last fall to replace Scott Grimes, who is now the company’s non-executive chairman.
Woven last year built a digital studio at its Culver City, Calif., headquarters and has released four original series and one daily news show, “The Desk,” as well as an Uproxx short documentary on Guns N’ Roses.
While Uproxx also covers entertainment, Digiaro said it’s broader-based than HitFix and includes sports and music. “Entertainment is such a key component of millennial culture,” he said.
With HitFix, Woven Digital now has 135 employees. The deal is Woven Digital’s seventh acquisition to date, following BroBible (2012), Guyism (2013), BroTips (2013), Animal New York (2013), Uproxx (2014) and basketball fan site Dime (2015).
Woven Digital has raised $23.5 million dollars, with $18 million coming in a Series A round in late 2014. Investors include IVP, the San Francisco 49ers, UTA, Advancit Capital and Ziffren Brittenham LLP.