Sound +Vision. Vox Media, of the US, has acquired California-based Epic Magazine and Epic Digital, which were founded in 2013 by journalists Josh Davis and Joshuah Bearman to publish “high profile true stories”.
The company is developing 40 film and TV projects. Their series Little America will be streamed by Apple and further projects include one scripted by the Coen brothers and another about disgraced auto entrepreneur John DeLorean, to be directed by George Clooney.
This is the first entertainment acquisition for Vox Media, which operates seven sites including Vox, The Verge, Eater and SB Nation, and has almost 90m monthly uniques in the US. But the deal is significant also because it will diversify the revenues of the largely advertising-funded network which, like many of its digital news peers, missed its advertising revenue targets for 2018. Vox had been targeting revenue of about $200m, compared with $160m in 2017. But it may have achieved almost no growth. Investors must be getting nervous about the company which has raised more than $300m in funds: its last investment, from NBCUniversal, valued Vox at about $1bn.
For this and other advertising-dependant digitals with strong audiences and high-rated content, it may be a question of adjusting expectations and costs (Vox Media has some 1,000 employees) – and diversifying revenues.
That re-adjustment is going to be an increasingly familiar theme in 2019 and the new realities will surely produce some headlining mergers of new media with old. In addition to this week’s resurgent talks between Viacom and CBS, and speculation (yes) of an Apple-Disney streaming combination, can we expect Huffington Post, Vice, and BuzzFeed to be acquired by traditional news companies?