The Most Important Media Deals in Q1 2024: Streaming, News, Creator Economy

A recap of the first quarter's most important media partnerships, sales and shutdowns.

MrBeast
MrBeast is partnering with Amazon Prime Video on a new television series. Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

In the first quarter of 2024, media companies big and small formed partnerships, signed agreements, and launched joint ventures to further themselves in an ever-evolving industry. The past three months have shown that cross-sector partnerships are key, as seen in Semafor’s news product deal with OpenAI and Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN) Prime Video’s production agreement with MrBeast, and Spotify’s non-exclusive contracts with its biggest podcasters.

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Digital media continued offloading assets left and right. But recent sales, such as NTWRK’s purchase of Complex from BuzzFeed (BZFD), have a more positive outlook compared to the shutdowns at Vice Media and The Messenger

Here’s a roundup of eight significant media deals that occurred in the last three months of 2024.

Disney announced a couple joint ventures 

In February, The Walt Disney Company (DIS) confirmed partnerships with multiple major media companies. The first joint venture was with Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery on a sports streaming platform expected to drop later this year. The new platform will include all three companies’ sports channels and programs from ESPN+, just one of the plans for ESPN’s brand going forward. The second was with the Ambani family’s conglomerate Reliance Industries to combine the two companies’ streaming and linear TV businesses in India.   

Spotify worked out non-exclusive contracts with its biggest podcasters 

The audio streaming platform has changed its podcasting strategy in the past year, but its renewed contract in February with Joe rogan for the Joe Rogan Experience was a head turner. Spotify’s new deal with Rogan is a multi-year non-exclusive contract worth up to $250 million, and it’s the first time Rogan will be able to bring his show to other podcasting platforms. Call Her Daddy podcaster Alex Cooper has also renewed her contract with Spotify in a similar deal that will allow her to stream with Spotify competitors. 

Reddit went public

The popular online discussion forum founded in 2005 went public in March, listing shares on the New York Stock Exchange at $34 apiece, which valued the company at about $6.5 billion. Reddit was founded by Steve Huffman, Alexis Ohanian and Aaron Swartz in a college dorm room almost two decades ago and is currently led by CEO Huffman. Reddit’s IPO filing said the site has 73 million users and more than 100,000 communities. 

Amazon’s Prime Video signed a game show deal with MrBeast

Amazon’s video streaming service secured the contract for superstar YouTuber MrBeast’s new TV show, Beast Games, where contestants will compete for a whopping $5 million prize. MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, said in an interview that he was speaking to other companies, but Amazon gave him the most creative control. 

BuzzFeed finally sold Complex 

Many industry onlookers have been waiting for BuzzFeed to sell off Complex since reports arose that it was looking to do so in the summer of 2023. This was part of BuzzFeed’s strategy to work off the $150 million debt that it took on to buy Complex for $300 million in 2021. Complex will now be operated by the livestream shopping platform NTWRK, and its new CEO will be NTWRK and ComplexCon co-founder Aaron Levant.  

OpenAI courted news and Big Media brands 

The artificial intelligence (A.I.) company has intimidated many who work in media, but some companies are embracing the change. In February, Semafor teamed up with OpenAI and Microsoft on a breaking news product that will use A.I. to gather multiple news sources and synthesize them into a presentable format for readers. In March, European news companies Le Monde and Prisa Media also struck deals with OpenAI. Axel Springer, which owns Politico and Business Insider, initiated a partnership with the A.I. company in December.

Meanwhile, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and chief operating officer Brad Lightcap reportedly held meetings in March with major studios, including Paramount (PARA), to demonstrate OpenAI’s new A.I. video generator Sora, signaling more potential deals.

G/O Media kept selling off its brands

The sale of Jezebel and Splinter to Paste Magazine at the end of 2023 was apparently not enough for G/O Media to keep itself afloat. The media company in March sold another one of its brands, The A.V. Club, to Paste, owned by Josh Jackson. In addition, it sold The Takeout, to the digital content firm Static Media.      

Vice Media shut down flagship brands

Digital media is in a precarious time. Vice Media, long struggling with debt, said in February that it would close down Vice.com and lay off several hundred staffers, CEO Bruce Dixon said. Vice Media’s female-focused brand Refinery29 might also be on the chopping block soon. Vice’s announcement came only weeks after The Messenger, the digital news startup founded by Jimmy Finkelstein, deleted its website and ceased production.

The Most Important Media Deals in Q1 2024: Streaming, News, Creator Economy