Univision Buys Minority Stake in Satirical Website The Onion

Updated on
  • Broadcaster reaches younger audience coveted by advertisers
  • Onion sites have 25 million unique visitors per month

Univision Communications Inc. made a minority investment in Onion Inc., owner of the satirical website The Onion, as the largest U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster tries to capture the growth in digital advertising and reach younger consumers.

Onion Inc. will continue to operate independently, though Univision will have oversight to expand exposure of the brand, the companies said in a joint statement Tuesday. Terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed.

The deal is the latest example of traditional media companies investing in digital properties. Last year, Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal Inc. agreed to make investments in the news websites BuzzFeed Inc. and Vox Media Inc., while Walt Disney Co. added stakes in Vice Media Inc. 

These older media companies want to reach younger audiences coveted by advertisers -- millennials who “may not be watching their properties,” said Paul Sweeney, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. Each month, more than 25 million people visit Onion Inc.’s brands, which include The Onion, The A.V. Club, ClickHole and StarWipe.

“The traditional media gets some compelling content and, on the other side, the startup media gets the capital they need to grow,” Sweeney said.

Univision, for its part, has been busy expanding its digital footprint. In December, the company was said to be in talks to buy up Disney’s half of their joint venture Fusion, a cable TV network aimed at millennials. Univision also has acquired The Root, a digital magazine geared toward African American audiences.

Univision Holdings Inc., the parent of Univision, has been planning an initial public offering, returning to the markets after being taken private in March 2007. Last July, the New York-based company filed with a $100 million placeholder, an amount used to calculate fees that may change.

— With assistance by Gerry Smith

(Updates with analyst's comment in fifth paragraph.)
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