Discovery Targets Millennials With $100 Million Investment in Digital Media

NowThis, Thrillist among the brands in the deal

Discovery is perhaps a brand most known for its television network and productions such as Shark Week or MythBusters. It announced today a unifying partnership of digital media sites with Group Nine Media.

Thrillist Media Group, NowThis Media, The Dodo and Seeker, which is already a part of Discovery's digital network, now make up Group Nine Media, along with its production studio SourceFed Studios, according to a press release from Discovery.

Ben Lerer, the current CEO of Thrillist, is now the CEO of Group Nine Media.

"The merging of these millennial-focused brands will immediately create in Group Nine Media one of the largest digital-first media companies," the release stated.

This represents a huge push from a traditionally TV-first company toward the digital space, which is mostly filled with young millennial consumers of media. Around 60 percent of Group Nine Media's audience are people ages 18-34 and who spend most of their time on the "social web."

This merging of brands seems to create competition for the leader position for the next decade across mobile and other content areas.

The Dodo gets more than 700 million monthly social video video views, NowThis is the No. 1 video news publisher on Facebook, Seeker sees over 23 million YouTube subscribers across all channels, and Thrillist's site has doubled to almost 20 million monthly unique visitors.

This is a $100 million minority investment made by Discovery Communications, who will have an option to buy a controlling stake in Group Nine Media down the line. The investment will mostly go toward the "expansion of the sales team and branded content studio, new vertical launches and expansive content development for all brands."

Discovery will sell ad space for Group Nine separately from its linear components, apart from any 360-degree deals which will encompass "linear, digital, and live events."

According to Variety, Axel Springer, a German media conglomerate, will "maintain its investment as the second-largest shareholder of Group Nine."

"We're thrilled to work even more closely with Discovery. They've been The Dodo's lead investor and an incredible partner to us, and this feels like an organic and very exciting next step," said Izzie Lerer, founder of The Dodo, who will continue to be responsible for the brand, according to the release.

"I'm looking forward to working with my brother, too," she said. "His competence in business makes up for most of his annoying personality traits."

"We will be stronger brands working together—we will have more influence; we will have better data and insights; we will be better partners to our advertisers; and most importantly, we will be substantial enough to make a real difference and stay ahead of the market," said Ben Lerer.