Verizon and Hearst today announced a deal to acquire Complex Media, the publisher of the eponymous culture magazine and website, as well as a slew of other, smaller sites like movie-focused Collider and food-focused First We Feast. News of the deal, before it was confirmed, was reported earlier today by The Wall Street Journal.
The sale is said to value Complex's whole operation at $250 million to $300 million. Both Verizon and Hearst will each receive 50 percent of Complex as part of Verizon Hearst Media Partners, the joint venture started in March to help both companies regain relevance with younger, app-using, and video-obsessed audiences. Hearst became a minority investor in Complex after it put $21 million into the operation last September. As part of the deal, Complex CEO Rich Antoniello will continue to run the media network.
Verizon and Hearst want to advertise to younger, more mobile audiences
"When we look at Complex and how well they've built audiences by championing the digital convergence of cultures for well over a decade, it pairs well with our strategic vision and current shifts in content consumption," Brian Angiolet, Verizon's senior vice president of consumer product and marketing, said in a statement.
For Verizon, it's part of a larger plan that extends from its 2015 purchase of AOL. That acquisition gave the company a robust mobile and video ad operation and websites like The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget. In the long-term, the telecom giant is using its sizable war chest to try and buy its way to the types of viewers and readers interested in media companies like BuzzFeed and Vice and mobile apps like Snapchat. Those platforms continue to attract more of the lucrative millennial ad demographic Verizon so desperately seeks.
Last fall, the company launched its free Go90 video app, which features full TV shows, clips from partners, and original series designed for smartphones. The new Hearst partnership will also give Verizon two additional web video channels — the lifestyle-oriented RatedRed.com and comedy site Seriously.TV — that are set to launch later this spring. With Complex thrown into the mix, Verizon's portfolio would cover an even larger slice of the online media world.
Update at 8:00PM on Monday, April 18th: Added confirmation that Verizon and Hearst officially announced the deal.