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July 26, 2015

Comcast looks to BuzzFeed and Vice to court millennials

Old-media giant is in talks with new-media companies in hopes of attracting younger viewers

Television Millennials
Carroll - Comcast Center Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The Comcast Center

Comcast is talking with companies like Vice and Buzzfeed in hopes of creating a partnership that could help the old-media company attract new-media-loving millennials, the Wall Street Journal revealed.

Possible deals could include creating a TV channel for news service Vice, which has already won investments from 21st Century Fox and A+E Networks. Comcast is also considering increasing its 14 percent stake in Vox Media.

Comcast’s subsidiary NBCUniversal is considering ways to win back the hearts of younger viewers who have “cut the cord” of cable TV. The company’s cable networks division reported a 1 percent drop in revenue on Thursday.

Other legacy media companies have felt the same pinch. From 2010 to 2014, WSJ reported, the forty most widely-distributed channels lost over 3 percent of their distribution – an average of 3.2 million subscribers each.

Parents have always told their kids to watch less TV and millennials appear to have listened. The median age of prime-time TV views is now over 50.

But the Journal’s Miriam Gottfried warned Comcast that it shouldn’t be “too taken in by the fountain of youth.”

While BuzzFeed is valued at $850 million and Vice at $2.5 billion, Gottfried argued that these outlets haven’t yet proven that their business models truly justify those high valuations.

“To do that, they must show they can successfully capture enough ad revenue, particularly on mobile, to sustain their growing operations and turn a meaningful profit," she wrote.