Bolstering its presence in digital media, Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting unit has made a strategic equity investment in Refinery29, which focuses on reaching millennial women.
Turner is leading a $45 million round of financing and will get a seat on Refinery29’s board that will be occupied by Christina Miller, president and general manager of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang.
Scripps Networks Interactive, which has previously invested in Refinery29, is also providing some of the funding for this round of financing.
Turner and Refinery29 will work together on content creation and development tied to key programming across the Turner networks that appeal to Refinery29’s audience of young women. The two companies will also collaborate on cross-platform ad sales partnerships, the companies said.
Traditional media companies like Turner have been making bets by investing in digital media companies.
"In order to achieve success in today's quickly evolving digital environment, we believe in partnering with brands that have distinct voices and loyal, engaged audiences," said David Levy, president of Turner. "Refinery29 certainly fits the bill, bringing with it a highly coveted following of millennial-minded women, strong capabilities in digital products, event marketing and content creation, as well as an attractive advertiser base. We’re excited to enter into this agreement and look forward to working with the talented and creative team at Refinery29 to develop and expand opportunities around our commercial content partnership and other initiatives that will engage audiences and appeal to advertisers.”
Turner has also made investments in digital companies including Mashable earlier this year and iStreamPlanet in 2015. It has also been expanding digital and online properties such as Bleacher Report, Great Big Story and Super Deluxe.
Refinery29 plans to use the cash infusion to boost its video production business and create new formats and channels. It will also aim to accelerate its international growth and develop new advertising products for marketers looking to reach women.
Refinery29 attracts 27 million unique visitors to its website and reaches 225 million users across other platforms. It launched R29 Originals in 2015 and also began its international expansion that year.
New thematic channels include Brawlers on sports, Short Cuts on beauty and Riot for comedy. It also just launched its first podcast and app.
"It has been an incredible year of growth for Refinery29, expanding our mission to put women at the center of every conversation and lead a new powerful representation of women in media and advertising,” said cofounders and co-CEOs Philippe von Borries and Justin Stefano. "We are thrilled to bring Turner on board as a key strategic partner: Turner’s portfolio consists of many of the world's strongest media properties and is a true leader in global content creation. We are excited to collaborate with the Turner team to expand Refinery29 into new territories, expand and develop our leading voice in video content for women, as well as integrate into some of Turner's most exciting franchises and platforms."
Earlier investors in Refinery29 include WPP, Stripes Group, Floodgate, Lead Edge Capital, First Round Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Hearst Corp.
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.