In yet another sign that TV is still the endgame for media companies, technology website Mashable said Thursday it raised $15 million in funding to feed its growing video ambitions, including creating content for linear television, that is, TV delivered via cable or satellite.
Turner led the funding round, which Mashable said will be used to develop programming ideas and franchises and create “cross-sales” opportunities for the two brands. Turner-owned content will also be distributed to Mashable’s digital audience as part of the deal, the company said. Turner Broadcasting owns a family of major cable networks, including TBS, TNT, CNN and Adult Swim.
Time Warner Investments — part of Turner’s parent company, Time Warner Inc. — also contributed to the new funding round, in addition to a number of returning investors. The new infusion comes just 14 months after Time Warner Investments and others pumped $17 million into the site. At the time, Mashable’s chief executive, Pete Cashmore, told the Wall Street Journal that company revenue grew 45 percent in 2014.
A Mashable spokesman on Thursday declined to share updated information about the company’s financials. Mashable’s valuation and whether it operated at a profit in 2015 were not disclosed as part of Thursday’s announcement.
Rumors of an outright sale of Mashable have circulated for years. In 2012, Felix Salmon, then a blogger for Reuters, reported that CNN was in talks to buy the site for $200 million. But such large-scale deals have been rare in digital media since the Huffington Post sold to AOL Inc. for $315 million in 2011.
Still, the relationship between Old Guard TV companies and newer digital media properties is growing increasingly symbiotic. Established media giants, tasked with reaching an elusive cohort of cord-cutters and digital natives, are seeking ways to exploit the massive social media footprints of popular websites. (Mashable said it has 28 million social followers.) Conversely, digital-only advertising remains a slippery financial prospect, making the potentially huge profits of linear television enticing for digital media companies.
The last 12 months has seen a number of old and new media mashups. Last summer, Comcast’s NBCUniversal made a $200 million equity investment in BuzzFeed as part of a “strategic partnership.” Just weeks earlier, the same company made a similar investment in Vox Media. Later last year, the Walt Disney Company poured $200 million into Vice Media, which launched its own cable network this month.
At the South by Southwest interactive conference this month, Cashmore said Mashable had struck a deal with NBCUniversal’s Bravo to create original short-form TV series to debut sometime this year.