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AMC’s IFC network has bought a piece of Funny or Die

It’s the second big TV network to invest in the humor site.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

One for the “big TV programmer invests in digital video” file: AMC’s IFC network is buying a stake in Funny or Die, the humor video hub best know for its affiliation with Will Ferrell.

AMC/IFC is paying an undisclosed amount for a minority stake in Funny or Die, and says the two companies will collaborate on both programming and sales projects.

If that structure sounds familiar, there’s a reason: We’ve seen a slew of programmers putting money into digital in the last few years, including Comcast (Vox Media, Buzzfeed twice), Turner (Refinery29, Mashable) and Discovery (Thrillist, Dodo, NowThis).

Big thesis: TV networks are strong but weakening, digital startups are on the rise but still needs lots of help and/or an exit.

This one also sounds familiar since a big programmer had already invested in Funny or Die: Turner bought a chunk of the site in 2012. Funny or Die CEO Mike Farah says Turner will keep its stake in the company, but that its strategic involvement in Funny or Die has tapered off after an ad sales pact expired in 2015.

Funny or Die, like many humor sites, had also been up for sale in the last couple years. But so far the only one of those that has traded hands is The Onion, which sold a substantial stake in itself to Univision earlier this year.

Funny or Die and IFC “will find two ways to take sensibilities that are distinctive but complimentary, and find ways to work together,” said IFC President Jennifer Caserta, who will join Funny or Die’s board.

The two companies have already worked together. Next year, IFC will start running “Brockmire,” which stars Hank Azaria as “a famed Major League Baseball announcer who suffers an embarrassing and very public meltdown”; the show started as a digital series on Funny or Die.

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