Media

Vox Fawns Over How Good Of A Job Its Top Investor Is Doing Without Disclosing Anything

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Joe Simonson Media Reporter

Vox declared NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics “the best it’s been in years” without noting NBC’s parent company has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into Vox Media.

Todd VanDerWerff, the “Critic At Large for Vox,” asked readers in a Sunday essay if “Was it just me, or was NBC’s coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang a lot better than it’s been in the past?”

“… A lot of it stems from just how much better NBC has gotten at modulating its programming. Yes, the network still made silly decisions here and there, like spending a fair amount of time showing American skiers’ training runs. But even when it did something dumb, it usually followed up that moment with a smarter decision, which kept whole evenings of programming from sliding off a cliff into mawkish, soft-focus platitudes,” wrote  VanDerWerff.

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One thing missing from his glowing review of the network’s programming: They’re funding a large part of his salary. NBCUniversal invested $200 million into Vox Media in 2015.

Even more interesting, VanDerWerff admitted that he’s “complained a lot in the past that NBC takes the inherent drama of sports and tries to package that drama as a news magazine.”

What changed?

Vanderwerff said that NBC relegated “competition back toward center stage.” And while he openly admits “the network has a long way to go,” his praise comes in striking contrast to the network’s abysmal ratings.

As the New York Post reported, NBC saw its overall Olympic ratings slide 8 percent — raising serious questions about whether it will even turn a profit on the $7.7 billion it spent to give rights to air the games through 2032.

When Vox Media received its investment, NBCUniversal chief executive Stephen B. Burke said in a statement that the company was “excited to be making this investment and building a collaborative partnership involving editorial content, advertising and technology.”

One Vox Media insider told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Vox.com is seen as the “golden child.” Given its relative success compared to other Vox Media verticals that have recently seen job cuts, NBC may be counting on it to help its investment pay off.

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