It’s a buyer’s market in medialand and the newest properties on the block are the Millennial-friendly Gizmodo Media Group, but just what the brands have to offer seems to vary.
The group — purchased in 2016 by Univision from Gawker’s Peter Thiel-induced bankruptcy only to be renamed, carved out and put up for sale again — includes digital brands such as Deadspin, Jezebel, Lifehacker and the eponymous Gizmodo.
ComScore data from the last two years shows sites that took some time to adjust after leaving their Gawker home, which could be due to any number of factors, not least being purchased by a corporation that was for the first time attempting to make a big English-language digital play for Millennials and then went with layoffs and buyouts to cut costs.
Univision’s trials with its digital media expansion were well-documented in a 7,000-word story in May from its own Special Projects Desk, also a part of Gizmodo and now for sale, that dove into the company’s private equity debt, deepened by the Gizmodo deal, executive departures and waves of staff cuts. The story characterized Univision as even less than the “absentee stepfather” it had been since the acquisition.
That seems to gel with the numbers. Jezebel, aimed at feminist-minded women, looks to have fared the worst under Univision among the four core brands, with traffic at nine million in June 2016, which fell to 7.5 million the following year and 6.5 million this past June, according to comScore. Over the last year, traffic fell to just over 99 million from 111 million the year before.
The other three brands seem to have bounced back after a rocky first year. Gizmodo’s traffic in June 2016 hit 16.7 million, then fell the following year to 15.7 million, but came back strong last month with 21.3 million visitors. Over the last year, traffic grew to about 236 million from 209 million. Lifehacker followed a similar trend, going from 12.2 million in June 2016, down to 10.4 million the following year and coming back to 14.3 million. Yearly has also improved to 185 million compared with 143 million the previous year.
Deadspin, which mainly offers hot takes on sports but has a big social following, seems the steadiest of the bunch. Traffic remained around 8.5 million in June 2016 and 2017, but jumped up to 13 million last month. Year-on-year shows a slight decline, but traffic was still the steadiest at 132 million over the last year after hitting 134 million the year before.
For the sake of comparison, New York Magazine’s digital traffic averages around 28 million a month, while Sports Illustrated, which Meredith Corp. is selling, averages around 16 million, according to data from the Association of Magazine Media.
The fluctuating traffic of the Gizmodo sites will likely show up in the sale price, as industry sources say Univision is willing to let go of the group for less than the $135 million it paid and is also open to selling the brands off in part or one by one. That certainly sounds like a company ready to rid itself of an experiment gone awry. As Univision put it when it confirmed it was exploring a sale after months of speculation, offloading the sites will allow it “to focus on its core assets,” meaning TV aimed at Hispanic audiences.
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