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November 20, 2018updated 30 Sep 2022 7:07am

Buzzfeed boss open to merging with rival online news publishers to negotiate better deal with Duopoly

By Charlotte Tobitt

Buzzfeed chief executive Jonah Peretti has said he is open to the idea of merging with other online media companies to be able to negotiate better terms with Facebook and Google over advertising revenue.

Peretti told the New York Times that merging with five or six other internet publishers could be a solution to the challenges facing the media industry, namely the tech giants’ dominance of the digital ad market.

In return for a better deal, the newly merged publishers could supply the platforms with video and articles which are safe for users and more attractive for advertisers, Peretti told the US paper.

He said: “If Buzzfeed and five of the other biggest companies were combined into a bigger digital media company, you would probably be able to get paid more [ad] money.”

The 44-year-old pointed to the “interesting work” being done at Vice, Vox Media, Refinery 29 and Group Nine, but declined to name which, if any, companies he had spoken to about potential mergers.

But, he said: “Having some bigger companies that actually care about the quality of the content feels like something that’s very valuable.”

Benjamin Lerer, chief executive of Group Nine which owns digital media brands such as video publisher Now This, viral animal stories publisher The Dodo and lifestyle brand Thrillist, told the NY Times “consolidation in digital media is something that is going to happen”.

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“I don’t believe my competition is Buzzfeed or Vox or Vice,” he added.

“We compete on a day-to-day basis for business, but the ultimate competition here is us against traditional TV and also protecting ourselves against the big platforms.”

Also yesterday, Buzzfeed News launched a new membership model after first asking readers for donations of any amount in August this year.

The average contribution from this experiment was more than $20, Press Gazette understands, with some readers asking for a way to support the website on an ongoing basis.

Readers are now asked to pay a subscription fee of $5 per month or $100 per year to help keep Buzzfeed News “free and available for all”.

The new scheme is “part of an effort to explore a deeper relationship with our most active supporters”, the website has said.

Subscribers will receive exclusive emails on scoops, new projects, and behind-the-scenes looks at the reporting behind stories.

Only the monthly contribution option is available worldwide, with the yearly subscription fee currently only available in the US.

Picture: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson 

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