The Onion Sells Controlling Stake to Univision
Spanish-language media giant aims to increase its reach to English-speaking millennials.
Univision is raising the stakes in its quest to reach English-speaking millennials.
The Spanish-language media giant is set to acquire a 40 percent stake in Onion Inc., which includes satirical media site The Onion as well as pop culture-focused sister site The A.V. Club and BuzzFeed parody ClickHole, reports NPR.
The satirical news site that fools legitimate media outlets—and government officials—on a seemingly-regular basis, The Onion originated in 1988 as a Madison, WI-based weekly newspaper before folding its print operations in 2013 to focus on digital and its newly-minted branded content studio, Onion Labs.
Since then, rumors about The Onion seeking a buyer have abounded, including but not limited to two separate rounds of informal talks with Viacom, according to NPR. Longtime CEO Steve Hannah resigned last June, allowing president Mike McAvoy to take over. Layoffs and management changes soon followed, focused on revamping the branded content arm that accounts for 80 percent of Onion Inc. revenues, according to Digiday.
For Univision, meanwhile, the aquisition is the latest in a string of recent moves aimed at broadening its aging Latino audience, as U.S.-born hispanics—rapidly outpacing the arrivals of those born outside the country in population growth—increasingly turn to English-language media.
Most notably, Univision teamed with ABC in 2013 to launch Fusion Media Network, a multi-platform media company targeting young, English-speaking hispanics—a sizeable slice of the millennial pie. Disappointing initial returns led Fusion to then switch its focus to a "young, diverse and inclusive" audience made up of millennials of all backgrounds, according to Mark Lima, VP of news.
And Fusion is exactly where The Onion will fit in under the Univision umbrella, writes McAvoy in a staff memo obtained by NPR.
"So what does this mean for us as a company? Good things," says McAvoy. "Univision is excited to help Onion Inc. grow, and to provide the resources to both support our long-standing mission and fund new initiatives. They'll help us keep the foundation strong and to build great new things on top of it."
Perhaps inspired by decidedly youth-oriented media entities like The Daily Show, Univision sees humor as key in attracting millennials to news content, according to ABC.
Univision says that it will maintain oversight of Onion Inc., but that the company will remain free to operate independently, and its headquarters will stay in Chicago, reports NPR.