Univision Acquires Gawker in Bankruptcy Auction

TV network adds online properties to digital portfolio

Spanish-language TV network Univision emerged as the winning bidder in a bankruptcy auction for Gawker Media today.

"We could not have picked an acquirer more devoted to vibrant journalism," said Gawker founder Nick Denton in a statement Tuesday evening. "I am pleased that our employees are protected and will continue their work under new ownership—disentangled from the legal campaign against the company."

For its part, Univision is waiting for the bankruptcy court to finalize the order before confirming the sale. That's expected to happen Thursday.

When Gawker filed for bankruptcy in June, publisher Ziff Davis entered a bid of $90 million for the Gawker assets. Since Ziff Davis was not the winning bidder today, Univision's price likely exceeded $90 million with some reports pegging it at $135 million. Gawker Media brands include Gawker, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Jalopnik and Jezebel. 

Denton called Univision "one of America's largest media companies that is rapidly assembling the leading digital media group for millennial and multicultural audiences."

Univision's digital expansion by acquisition began in January when it acquired satirical news site The Onion. In April, when it took full control of Fusion after Disney exited the joint venture, Univision created The Fusion Media Group, which includes Fusion (TV and digital), The Onion and Flama, a video site targeted at U.S.-born Hispanic millennials. The importance of the English-language digital entities came to the fore when The Onion and Flama participated in Univision's upfront event for advertisers in May.

In the midst of the auction for Gawker, Univision is still planning a long-anticipated initial public offering later this year.

Gawker was forced into bankruptcy last spring when a Florida jury awarded Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, $140.1 million in a lawsuit. Hogan sued Gawker for $100 million for defamation, loss of privacy and emotional pain. In 2012, the blog published a portion of a 2007 sex tape of Hogan and Heather Clem, then the wife of radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge.

Earlier this month, Denton also filed for personal bankruptcy.

@ChrisAriens chris.ariens@adweek.com Chris Ariens is the managing editor and director of video at Adweek.