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Everyone wants to be on TV — even the Gawker sites

Tonia O’Connor, Univision’s newly appointed CRO, says some of the former Gawker verticals, now called Gizmodo Media, will get shows on Fusion TV.

Univision Chief Revenue Officer Tonia O’Connor
Courtesy Univision

Since 2008, Univision has grown from three traditional TV stations to 17 TV and digital channels. But even as digital grows in importance, its newly named chief revenue officer, Tonia O’Connor, says TV is still the hot ticket.

“What we’re really focused on is the magic that can happen when you take digital audiences and convert them to television,” O’Connor said on the latest episode of Recode Media. “While a lot of the digital media companies get a lot of credit for being hipster and cool, and here we’re ‘old, traditional media,’ where is it that all those cool, hip digital companies want to be? They want on TV!”

She’s right — Vice, BuzzFeed and Vox Media (which owns Recode) are pushing into TV. And even audio startup Gimlet is adapting some of its shows for the small screen.

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O’Connor oversees how Univision’s content gets monetized through ad sales and licensing deals with distributors — which includes both the cable companies and digital platforms like Hulu. She said part of being in the TV business in 2017 is experimenting, making mistakes and sometimes moving content to new platforms, as Univision is planning to do with the remaining assets of Gawker Media.

“I loved when the company made the decision to acquire that portfolio, and it was interesting because I’d get the question, ‘What? You guys acquired Gawker? Huh?’” O’Connor said. “The head-scratching is exactly the reason we acquired it. If we went out and continued to acquire like assets, we’d probably be criticized for not diversifying the portfolio.”

“The Gawker portfolio had a very strong lineup of a variety of verticals, with extremely loyal users, and it gave us the opportunity to get into those verticals without having to do it organically and ramp up over time,” she added. “Some of the assets from the portfolio are going to have TV shows on Fusion TV.”

Not everything is meant for TV, however. Fusion, which launched in partnership with ABC News as a TV news channel for English-speaking Hispanics in the U.S., has since pivoted to have less news over the airwaves.

“What we learned very quickly is that the target audience, millennials, they don’t watch all of their news on linear television,” O’Connor said. “They consume it mostly on mobile and digital. What we discovered is that, for television, we need to start leaning more into the docu-series and we’ll even be doing some scripted [shows]. On the digital side, that’s where we’re embracing all of the news content.”

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