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MediaRadar’s 10 Notable Mergers & Acquisitions from 2019 — Part 1

MediaRadar’s 10 Notable Mergers & Acquisitions from 2019 — Part 1

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It’s almost 2020! But before the ball drops and you start putting those New Year resolutions into practice, 2019 warrants some reflection. 

Instead of getting personal, let’s look at the big picture of media and ad tech. It’s been a big year for mergers and acquisitions across the board; 2019 was the year Disney became an even bigger behemoth, Viacom and CBS kissed and made up, and Nexstar Media Group became the largest local TV broadcaster. 

This is part one of our ten notable deals from 2019, as covered by MediaRadar. 

Spotify Invested in Podcasts With Gimlet 

Early in 2019, Spotify made a move to position itself as an ‘audio company’ instead of simply a ‘music streaming platform’. The Swedish startup-turned-global-runaway-success acquired Gimlet, a relatively small New York-based media company, for $200 million. 

Shortly after the acquisition, we wrote about why Spotify bought Gimlet. The highlight? There’s gold in them podcast advertising hills. “Despite the small ad revenue associated with podcasting, the digital broadcasts seem to have a huge audience. Half of Americans listen to podcasts, and over a third of those people listen to at least one full podcast episode weekly,” we wrote at the time. “The acquisition adds a new development in the conversation surrounding the power of podcast advertising.” 

Given that IAB predicts podcast advertising revenue will reach nearly $900 million in 2020, it seems this was exactly right. 

Disney Spent $71 Billion on Fox 

After a nearly two-year struggle toward the finish line, complete with a bidding war with Comcast and regulatory hoop-jumping, The Walt Disney Co. completed its $71 billion acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox Inc. entertainment assets earlier this year. 

MediaRadar data showed that the networks Disney bought from Fox will push Disney to the #1 spot in terms of market share for the national TV ad market. If advertiser buying behavior remains consistent, Disney & NBCUniversal will likely account for over 4 of every 10 dollars spent on national TV advertising.

We also later found that Disney brought Fox assets into its ad sales fold, with an 81 percent overlap in advertisers across its new channels. 

Viacom and CBS Became One — Again 

Viacom and CBS announced their reunification in August, with a plan to create a $30 billion media company to rival Disney and Comcast both in content and streaming capabilities. Look back at our M&A report from August:

“Viacom’s Paramount film studio and MTV and Nickelodeon cable networks will be added to the broadcast giant CBS,” writes Edmund Lee at The New York Times. It’s also a clear move to bolster streaming capabilities for both companies. “The deal will allow the company to invest more in streaming, which is the future of entertainment. CBS already has a thriving digital television service with original series.” At the same time, Viacom brings the extensive catalogues of Paramount, MTV and Nickelodeon. 

You can also see our M&A coverage from earlier this month, when the deal was finalized. 

Northstar Travel Group Added B2B Travel Sites to Its Holdings

In October, Northstar Travel Group announced its acquisition of travAlliance. The former is a travel industry B2B information and marketing solutions company, while the latter focuses primarily on marketing for the North American travel industry. With the acquisition, Northstar took over travAlliance’s media brands: TravelPulse.com, Agent at Home, Travel Agent Academy, and Agent Studio. 

AT&T Divests from Hulu to Focus on Its Own Streaming Capabilities 

AT&T’s WarnerMedia had an almost 10% stake in Hulu, which it sold in April for $1.43 billion. The deal gave Disney a controlling ownership in the streaming platform and positioned AT&T to launch HBOMax, yet another addition to the streaming wars, in May 2020. 

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