Russian-Owned Media Outlet Dominates Youth Market

In a strategic move to target younger audiences, The Independent announces its acquisition of BuzzFeed and HuffPost operations in the UK and Ireland, signalling a significant shift in the region’s media landscape. Here’s the full story.

Right Wing News

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The UK’s media ecosystem leans heavily to the right, with the two newspapers with the widest circulation in the nation owned by the 4th Viscount Rothermere and the Murdoch family.

Media Landscape 

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However, this may be all about to change. The UK and Ireland’s media landscape is set for a significant transformation as The Independent, owned by a company controlled by the family of Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev , has announced its acquisition of BuzzFeed and HuffPost operations in the two counties. 

“Gen Z and Millennial Audiences”

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This move, aimed at consolidating publishing and advertising platforms, is a strategic move by the publisher to create “Britain’s biggest publisher network for Gen Z and millennial audiences.”

Combining Abilities

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Combining the company’s publishing, data, and advertising abilities will allow it to achieve its goal of making it easier “for commercial partners to seamlessly buy across their sites.”

Bolstering Youth Appeal

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The Independent, BuzzFeed, and HuffPost have inked a multiyear licensing deal to bolster their presence and appeal to younger audiences. 

BuzzFeed Brands 

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Under this agreement, The Independent will assume control over the operations of HuffPost UK and BuzzFeed’s sub-brands, such as Tasty UK and Seasoned, a black British identity brand.

Fallen Star

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Once hailed as a trailblazer in youth media, BuzzFeed’s star has waned in recent years. 

Substantial Losses 

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The company, which enjoyed significant success since its inception in 2006, has faced substantial losses, leading to a drastic decline in its share value. 

95% Drop

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According to a CNBC report last year, the company’s share price plummeted 95% from its initial public offering at $10 (£8) per share in December 2021.

Early Acclaim 

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This abrupt downturn starkly contrasted with its earlier acclaim as a digital news and content pioneer.

No Funding 

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In April of 2023, Jonah Peretti, the founder of Buzzfeed News, closed down the last remnants of its news departments, stating that “the company can no longer continue to fund BuzzFeed News.”

Not Viable

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Despite the high hopes surrounding the news organization at its launch, Peretti suggested to the staff he was firing that online news, previously vaunted for its quality and accuracy, was not a viable business model.

Politics Focused 

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Similarly, HuffPost has undergone its own evolution, transitioning from a comprehensive news outlet to a more focused platform, particularly in politics. 

Unpredictable Market 

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The strategic restructuring reflects the severe challenges faced by digital media companies in sustaining high-quality journalism in the unpredictable online news market.

New Chapter 

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For The Independent, this partnership signifies a new chapter in its storied history. Established in 1986 and transitioning to online-only in 2016, The Independent has demonstrated resilience in the face of industry challenges, reporting profitability since becoming an online-only news source.

Business Advancement

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Christian Broughton, the Independent’s chief executive and former editor-in-chief, said the partnership with BuzzFeed signifies a significant advancement for the company’s business.

“World Renowned Brands”

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Broughton stated, “Combining these world-renowned brands, each celebrated in its own right for industry-leading digital innovation, is designed to create unprecedented opportunities for these titles and all the commercial partners we work with.”

Pooling Talent 

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He continued, “By pooling the talent, tech and data and creating Britain’s biggest publisher network for Gen Z and millennial audiences, we seek to unlock investment in new editorial products and services that will ultimately benefit the readers of all the titles.”

Financial Uncertainty 

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Despite The Independent’s profitability, the broader digital news industry continues to grapple with financial uncertainties, with reduced engagement and similarly reduced advertising revenues. 

“Hugely Exciting”

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The BuzzFeed executive vice-president for global content, Richard Alan Reid, stated, “[The Independent’s] ambition in the digital space is hugely exciting, and we believe makes them the perfect partner to deepen the connection with our young, diverse audience. The synergies between our companies have been clear from day one.”

Targeted Data 

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In a bid to attract advertisers and diversify revenue streams, the UK’s newest news media alliance has stressed the importance of leveraging targeted data segments and exploring alternative revenue streams such as commerce, events, and content syndication. 

Strategic Realignment 

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The partnership between The Independent, BuzzFeed, and HuffPost heralds a strategic realignment in the UK and Ireland’s media landscape. 

Younger Demographics

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By consolidating resources and targeting younger demographics, the newest grouping of news publishers seeks to carve out a place for themselves in a media landscape that a few wealthy individuals own. 

Social Media 

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With more and more younger people getting the vast majority of their news from social media, the ability of the new coalition of news agencies targeting millennials and Gen Z to reach the market they are aiming for remains to be seen.

The post Media Shift: Russian-Owned Outlet Dominates Youth Market first appeared on Swift Feed.

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