No Joke: Univision Buys Stake in Satirical News Site The Onion


Spanish-language broadcaster Univision is buying a stake in the owner of the satiricial news site The Onion.

"I'm happy to announce that we've just finished a deal with what might at first seem like an unusual partner: Univision," wrote Onion Inc. CEO Mike McAvoy in a memo to employees.

He said Univision has acquired "a good chunk" of Onion Inc. as of Tuesday and may acquire the remainder down the line.

Univision Communications Inc. said Tuesday it's a minority investor, meaning it owns less than 50 percent of The Onion. Univision said it will have oversight of Onion Inc., but the company will operate independently.

Univision spokeswoman Rosemary Mercedes and Onion spokeswoman Lauren Pulte both declined to specify the size of Univision's investment.

The investment is the latest attempt by TV networks to appeal to young people. Disney, the owner of ABC and ESPN, has invested in digital video network Vice, which is getting its own U.S. TV channel; Comcast's NBCUniversal has put money into online content and news hubs BuzzFeed and Vox.

This isn't Univision's first digital foray. In 2015, the company — which last summer filed to go public amid declines in TV ratings — bought The Root, a news and opinion site aimed at African-Americans, and launched a digital video site, Flama, aimed at English-speaking young Hispanics in 2014.

Univision said it sees comedy as crucial in covering news for young people, particularly with the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

Onion Inc. no longer publishes a print satirical paper, and today also includes pop-culture site The A.V. Club; ClickHole, a swipe at viral-stories generator BuzzFeed; and Onion Labs, an ad agency.

McAvoy said the company has been searching for a year for a "partner" to help it grow.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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