It makes perfect sense on many levels why Spanish-language Univision Communications would buy a 40% stake in Chicago-based The Onion, with its cluster of online comedy shows.
For one, Univision eagerly wants to reach Millennials, the nation’s largest living generation, with 65% of US Hispanics being between the ages of 18 to 34.
Univision executives have concluded that humor is a key ingredient to appeal to Millennials. They hope to build on The Onion’s traffic for their existing digital sites, which are experiencing marked growth but not a lot of profit.
For another, The Onion acquisition will bolster Univision’s digital reach, strengthen its portfolio of comedy outlets and give The Onion the means to expand.
Last October, the organization’s restructuring resulted in layoffs and management changes. “Although we’ve done well,” said CEO Mike McAvoy at the time, “we have not been able to keep pace with our ambitious goals for Onion Inc.”
Onion, Inc.’s current Chicago-based productions are The Onion, The Onion News, The AV Club and ClickHole. The company also runs Onion Labs, its own in-house ad agency.
Univision’s plans are said to keep The Onion’s editorial team in place as it looks to put an Onion TV show on the Fusion cable network.
Fusion is a partnership between Univision and Disney’s ABC News. It was originally conceived as a channel targeting English-speaking Hispanics.
The Onion, with a staff of approximately 120, is headquartered 7,000-sq. ft. of office space at 720 N. Franklin. Last October, to accommodate its expanded production, it acquired former Space Stage Studio at 2155 W. Hubbard.
The Onion started as a satirical print publication by two students at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. It had offices in New York from 2001 until 2012 when it moved to Chicago, in an attempt to find a “younger and hungrier” talent pool than what was available in New York, said co-founder Scott Dikkers at the time of the move.