Comcast's NBCUniversal made another big bet on digital media Thursday —a $500 million IPO investment in Snap Inc. at the opening bell of the stock's sale on the New York Stock Exchange, CNBC reported Friday.
Also buoyed by strategic investments from Alibaba and Tencent, the company behind the Snapchat social media site saw the initial $17 stock price surge to $25 — up 44 percent by day's end — turning that $500 million investment from Comcast into $720 million (on paper). The stock was trading at about $28 around noon Friday.
Not even a slew of recent stories underscoring the growing competition in short-life videos from Instagram and Facebook, or Snapchat's $514.6 million in losses in 2016, has slowed the buying enthusiasm.
NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke has been betting big on new media. In the last 18 months the company has invested $1.5 billion in "digital assets," calculated CNBC, including $400 million in the millennials-minded, controversy-stirring news site BuzzFeed and $200 million in the deeper-digging storyteller Vox.
NBCUniversal also became majority owner of Awesomeness TV through acquisition of DreamWorks, launched the "over-the-top" streaming channels Seeso and Hayu, and recently acquired SportsEngine, a digital business for youths involved in local team sports.
The Comcast division has been in bed with Snap for a while, most notably pushing Rio Olympics coverage to the site in partnership with BuzzFeed, generating over two billion views.
NBC has also produced episodic content on Snapchat from The Voice, Saturday Night Live, and E! News' The Rundown. More shows are now in the planning with other NBCU brands, likewise with the goal of tapping eyeballs that aren't focused on traditional TV. Some will launch "in the coming weeks," Burke said in a note to employees, and the company is "planning an expanded partnership with Snapchat and BuzzFeed for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea."