Verizon and Hearst Buy Complex and Expand Millennial Video

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What: Verizon Hearst Media Partners and Hearst have entered into an agreement to jointly acquire Complex (the “Company”) in a 50/50 ownership structure.
Why it matters: The deal follows Verizon and Hearst’s agreement in March to form Verizon Hearst Media Partners to develop new digital video channels as well as recent investments in AwesomenessTV.

J_kELH0x_400x400Verizon Hearst Media Partners, a joint venture between Verizon Communications and media conglomerate Hearst have entered into an agreement to jointly acquire Complex (the “Company”) in a 50/50 ownership structure. Rich Antoniello, Complex CEO & Co-Founder, will continue to lead the Company.

The Complex announcement comes on the heels of Verizon and Hearst’s recent investments in AwesomenessTV (each owns 24.5% with DreamWorks Animation owning the rest) and their agreement in March 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 from the heartland who crave a brand of their own, and Seriously.TV, for viewers who want digital video comedic news updates throughout the day instead of waiting for late-night programming for their take on world events.In addition to the joint acquisition, Complex will develop premium video content for distribution across Verizon digital platforms, including go90, AOL.com and more.

Complex will develop premium video content for distribution across Verizon digital platforms

Founded by entrepreneur and Chief Brand Officer Marc Ecko in 2002, Complex is one of the fastest growing networks of sites focused on American popular culture—from entertainment news, sneakers and hip hop music to food, fashion, sports and technology––geared at the millennial male. The Company has seen a profit since 2010, excelling at providing advertisers with this targeted and attractive demographic.

“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 senior vice president 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.”

“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. “

Over the last two years, Complex has adopted a video-first approach, reaching over 50 million unique monthly visitors and seeing consumption spike to 300 million monthly views––a 415% percent growth year over year.In transitioning from print to the video-first digital powerhouse it is today, Complex has become one of the top 10 publishers in the U.S. when it comes to social interaction and engagement on channels like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

LionTree Advisors acted as advisor to Complex on this transaction. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions. The parties currently expect that the transaction will be completed within the next 60 days.

 

 


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