Dec 15, 2020 - Economy

Scoop: Vox Media Studios targets $100 million in 2021 revenue

Vox Media Studios website

Vox Media Studios, the video and audio production arm of Vox Media, is planning to bring in $100 million in 2021 revenue while producing twice as many shows as 2020, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans.

Why it matters: Vox Media hasn't been immune from the pandemic’s financial headwinds on digital publishers, but the studios revenue would be a huge number for the company, which reportedly expected $300 million in overall 2020 revenue.

  • Vox Media has experienced some growing pains while maturing from a startup to a 1,200-staffer corporation, including high-profile departures and revenue pressure.
  • Its studios business has remained a bright spot for the company. Today, 60 people work for Vox Media Studios full-time, with some additional project-based employees for certain show-teams.

Details: Vox Media Studios, led by president Marty Moe and head of entertainment Chad Mumm, plans to double its slate of programming to roughly 20 shows, spanning 8 distributors, including Hulu, Netflix, YouTube Originals, AppleTV +, HBO and more, per sources familiar with the company's plans.

  • Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff told Axios in an interview last month that the company has inked a show with HBO tied to its Vox editorial brand.
  • On Wednesday, Netflix announced a new partnership with meditation app Headspace for three new shows, all of which will be produced by Vox Media Studios.

Amid the pandemic, Vox Media's studios business has launched six new shows — three within Vox's "Explained" franchise with Netflix.

  • Some of its other well-known streaming franchises include "Eater’s Guide to the World" on Hulu, narrated by comedian Maya Rudolph, its Emmy-nominated YouTube Originals series "Glad You Asked" and "Little America," on Apple TV+.
  • Vox Media Studios acquired "Epic," a Hollywood production company focused on scripted adaptations of journalism and true stories in 2019. Epic brought with it Little America, a scripted TV series on Apple TV+ that's produced by Universal.
  • With the exception of the Eater's Hulu series, which just debuted in November, all the aforementioned series have announced renewals for 2021.

The big picture: Vox Media's production arm was created four years ago as Vox Entertainment. It was rebranded last year as Vox Media Studios, when the company acquired Hollywood production company Epic. It also houses Vox Media's podcast network, which produces over 200 podcasts annually and brings in around eight figures.

  • Unlike most digital media companies, Vox Media doesn't outsource the production or development of any of its streaming or TV content.
  • It created its own studio in-house so that it could have more editorial and production control over its shows, and so that it could take a higher cut of the profits. Sources say the Vox Media Studios business is itself a profitable entity within Vox Media. 

The independent studio model has also helped Vox Media establish credibility in Hollywood. Netflix, for example, came to Vox Media Studios to produce its new shows with Headspace.

  • Still, most of its shows are based off of editorial from Vox Media's 13 brands — seven acquired last year via its merger with New York Media. Those brands include Vox, Eater, Recode, The Verge, Polygon and SB Nation, New York Magazine, The Cut, The Strategist, Curbed, Grub Street, the Intelligencer and Vulture.

What's next: In the future, Vox Media Studios wants to start building out more TV and streaming franchises for brands it acquired via the New York Media merger, like New York Magazine, as well as some of its original Vox Media brands, like The Verge.

  • The company is also looking to expand from producing mostly its own shows to producing more for other companies.
Go deeper