Discovery Communications is looking to invest in a digital media merger which will bring together Thrillist Media Group, The Dodo, NowThis Media, and both Discovery digital network properties Seeker and SourceFed Studios. This newly-formed company will be called Group Nine Media and will be headed up by former Thrillist CEO Ben Lerer.

Many expect this deal to close by the end of this year.

The Group Nine Media agency aims to expand Discovery’s present strategy to make a bigger push into the digital age. This push actually began with the 2012 acquisition of the Revision3 digital network followed closely with the 2013 acquisition of DeFranco Creative, Philip DeFranco’s portfolio of various online video channels and other ventures.

At the same time, Discovery will also have an option to buy a controlling stake in the new Group Nine Media. Currently, Germany’s Axel Springer is a minority stake holder in Thrillist and will be the new company’s second-largest shareholder. Ben Lerer, CEO of Thrillist, will serve as CEO of Group Nine.

In a statement, the companies said, “The merging of these millennial-focused brands will immediately create in Group Nine Media one of the largest digital-first media companies,” citing that the group achieves more than 3.5 billion global monthly video views as well as more than 12 billion monthly social impressions and current has at least 40 million Facebook followers and at least 30 million YouTube subscribers.

The firm aslo claims to be the No. 1 video news publisher on social media giant Facebook.
Accordingly, Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav comments, “Today marks the start of a strong new company with tremendous brands, reach and scale. The merger of these assets will bring together best-in-class management, led by Ben and his team, expertise in data analytics technology and global reach to create one of the world’s largest digital-first content companies attracting young passionate enthusiasts that advertisers want to reach.”

In addition, Lerer notes, “This is truly a ‘win-win’ scenario, allowing our brands the opportunity to remain independent and build our own future, while at the same time, having the support of one of the best media and entertainment companies in the world. Each of our brands has found great success independently, but with consolidation of digital content companies around the corner, there is extraordinary value in all existing under one multi-brand roof. 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.”

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