Verizon and US media firm Hearst are set to acquire Complex Media, a “network of sites” focused on American popular culture for “the millennial male”, in a 50/50 ownership structure.
The deal values Complex at $250 million to $300 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. Late last year, Hearst took an undisclosed minority stake in Complex, investing $21 million in the company.
Complex will develop premium video content for distribution across Verizon’s digital platforms, including go90 and AOL.
The move comes less than two weeks after Verizon purchased a 24.5 per cent stake in AwesomenessTV, a multi-platform media firm which produces content for go90 and in which Hearst also has a stake. Verizon has also reportedly made a bid for Yahoo.
Founded in 2002, Complex content includes entertainment news, hip hop music, food, fashion, sports and technology.
It has seen a profit since 2010, and has adopted a video-first approach, reaching over 50 million unique monthly visitors and seeing consumption spike to 300 million monthly views – a 415 per cent growth year-over-year, Verizon said in a statement.
It added that Complex has become one of the top ten publishers in the US when it comes to social interaction and engagement on channels like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
“The decision to acquire Complex is certainly a continuation of our media strategy, which is focused on disruption that is occurring in digital media and content distribution, and involves building a portfolio of the emerging digital brands of the future for the millennial and Gen-Z audience,” said Brian Angiolet, Verizon’s SVP of consumer product and marketing.
“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,” he added.
In March, Verizon and Hearst agreed to form a 50/50 joint venture to build new multiplatform digital video channels targeting the mobile millennial audience.
The venture, Verizon Hearst Media Partners, is debuting two initial channels: RatedRed.com for millennials and Seriously.TV for viewers who want “digital video comedic news updates”.
“Complex will turn up the volume on our growing portfolio with Verizon, complementing the audiences targeted with our other channel investments,” said Neeraj Khemlani, co-president of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication.
Rich Antoniello, Complex CEO & co-founder, will continue to lead the company.