Growth isn't just coming from adding digtally adept staff. The EY report showed that a little less than half of the executives were planning mergers and acquisitions in the upcoming 12 months, with about one-third of those deals above $250 million. The U.K. and the U.S. were the top investment areas, with the top five rounded out by France, Canada and China.
"We're going to continue to see a lot of cross-sector investment out of the bigger companies looking to target smaller companies that deliver any combination of new capabilities, that have new technologies or that have new management talent, executives that have grown up in this new media world that bring a new perspective," Harrison said. "Or, they're looking at companies that bring a new perspective and help them gain access to an end market or audience they are under-penetrated in today."
Harrison also didn't rule out the idea of brands, especially consumer products groups, snapping up smaller digital media outlets as more companies branch out into making content themselves. Lederer added that PwC also believes some advertising holding companies will continue to invest in media companies.
For example, investing in a company like Vice, which is known for its irreverent tone, allows more buttoned-up establishments like 21st Century Fox and Disney to reach their audience without having to shift tone. Even communications service group WPP invested in Vice back in 2011.
Mashable, which has said it laid off its editorial staff in order to pivot toward more video initiatives, received a $15 million investment from Turner in March. NBCUniversal touted its investment in both BuzzFeed and Vox Media during its upfront presentation in May.
"Traditional publishing organizations, they've invested in digital communities to get millennials," Lederer said. "It's faster to buy them than to build them."
Update: NBC Universal is the parent company of CNBC.