Houston media company acquires CultureMap with plans for expanded digital coverage
Founded in 2007, Gow owns two Houston sports stations (ESPN 97.5 FM and SB Nation 1560 AM stations) as well as one of the nation's largest sports radio networks, SB Nation Radio, which it runs in partnership with SB Nation.com. SB Nation Radio provides 24/7 sports shows and sports updates to over 500 affiliate radio stations across the country, Sirius Satellite Radio, and mobile and digital partners.
CultureMap has attracted a loyal following for its coverage of food, fashion, society, real estate, arts and entertainment, and other lifestyle topics in five Texas cities. Launched in Houston in 2009, CultureMap expanded to Austin in 2011 and Dallas in 2012. Sites in Fort Worth and San Antonio were added in 2015.
The combination creates a multi-platform media company reaching nearly 8 million people monthly, making it what is believed to be the largest Houston-owned media company headquartered in the city.
"It's a great move for both companies," said David Gow, CEO of Gow Media. "It's a chance to create a large media company and offer more to our existing audience and advertisers. The combination of Gow Media assets and CultureMap creates one of the largest media companies based in Texas."
CultureMap will continue to offer premier lifestyle coverage in all of its Texas markets. "We recognize the brand has a strong following that is passionately engaged and we want to do everything we can to preserve that connection," Gow said. “We plan to share content, cross-promote, create bigger events, and provide larger scale packages for advertisers. The opportunities are exciting."
The company plans to invest in software upgrades to enhance the user experience on CultureMap and Gow hinted that sports will return to the mix on the site. "There's a strong intersection between sports and lifestyle content and we definitely see an opportunity to introduce sports content to the CultureMap reader," he said.
The two media companies worked together to host The Big Texas Party during Super Bowl week in Houston. It drew more than 1,500 guests, including Mayor Sylvester Turner and a number of top sports stars, and was generally recognized as one of the week's top parties.
In planning and executing the party over the past year, the teams from both companies found numerous advantages in consolidation into one entity. "Over time, it became apparent that we could accomplish more together than we could operating independently," said CultureMap CEO Robert Bennett.
CultureMap network marketing director Jessica Baldwin has been named vice president of marketing and events at Gow Media. “The Big Texas Party was the first of many events in which we will combine the power of sports and lifestyle content," she said.
Gow Media, LLC is backed by a private investment group with significant experience in media ownership. The investor group includes Steve Webster, co-manager and co-CEO of Avista Capital; Patrick Dugan, vice president and general counsel of Nortex; and Gow.