Discovery sinks $100M into new digital media holding company for Thrillist, other assets

Image: Thrillist

Following a wave of traditional television companies looking for a toehold in digital media, Discovery Communications has put down $100 million to become a minority shareholder in a new holding company called Group Nine Media.

The new company will house lifestyle platform Thrillist; NowThis, a platform for creating videos for social media distribution; animal-focused website The Dodo; and adventure-focused video platform Seeker. 

According to Discovery’s announcement, the company will be able to purchase a controlling share at a later date.

Thrillist chief executive Ben Lerer will become CEO of Group Nine Media. The company will collaborate with Discovery on content and ad sales across TV, online, social media and live events.

Discovery’s investment follows NBCUniversal’s $200 million backing of both BuzzFeed and Vox Media. Meanwhile, earlier this year, Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Networks invested $45 million in online publisher Refinery29, while leading a $15 million investment for Mashable. 

"The merger of these assets will bring together best-in-class management, led by Ben and his team, expertise in data analytics technology and global reach to create one of the world's largest digital-first content companies attracting young passionate enthusiasts that advertisers want to reach,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO Discovery Communications, in a statement. 

According to Discovery, The Dodo is drawing more than 700 million social video views a month, while Seeker has over 23 million YouTube subscribers, and Thrillist is drawing nearly 20 million unique visitors a month. 

"This is truly a ‘win-win' scenario, allowing our brands the opportunity to remain independent and build our own future, while at the same time, having the support of one of the best media and entertainment companies in the world," said Lerer, also in a statement. 

"Each of our brands has found great success independently, but with consolidation of digital content companies around the corner, there is extraordinary value in all existing under one multi-brand roof,” Lerer added.

For more:
- read this Discovery press release
- read this Hollywood Reporter story
- read this Bloomberg story

Related articles:
AT&T signs multiyear carriage deal with Discovery, brings Shark Week to DirecTV Now
Discovery Channel is cord-cutters' favorite cable network, according to survey
Comcast looks to spark struggling cable channels; in talks with Vice, BuzzFeed, others