Relativity’s Bid for Maker Falls Short

Relativity Media’s attempt to outbid the Walt Disney Co. for YouTube multi-channel network Maker Studios has been thwarted.

A Maker spokesperson confirmed Monday that Disney’s offer to acquire the MCN, potentially for as much as $950 million, has been approved by the Maker board of directors.

“As per the announcement made on March 24, Maker Studios has entered into a merger agreement with The Walt Disney Company,” the spokesperson said. “The agreement has been approved by Maker Studios’ Board of Directors and the majority of its shareholders and is expected to close in the next few weeks, subject to regulatory approval.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported Sunday night that with the Maker board of directors scheduled to vote this week on Disney’s offer, Relativity had placed a bid of $500 million in its own stock plus an additional $400 million in stock if certain goals were met.

On Monday, according to a source familiar with the deal, Relativity revised its bid, offering $525 million in stock, an additional $500 million if goals were met, and another $75 million in stock to key talent and executives. That offer is apparently now off the table.

“We made a compelling offer and believe Maker Studios, its employees and its roster of talent would have greatly benefited from Relativity’s platform, its entrepreneurial approach and promising growth potential,” a Relativity spokesperson said. “We will continue to aggressively explore future opportunities that align with our strategy to accelerate digital content creation and distribution.”

One of the largest YouTube multi-channel networks, Maker boasts 55,000 channels, 380 million subscribers and 5.5 billion views per month.

The Disney-Maker deal was one of several in the MCN space in March and April, with Machinima announcing that it closed an $18 million round of financing led by Warner Bros., and DreamWorks Animation-backed AwesomenessTV reaching a deal to acquire fellow MCN Big Frame for $15 million.

Also on Monday, a California judge denied a motion fled by Maker co-founder and ousted CEO Danny Zappin to block the Disney deal. Zappin is currently suing the MCN, claiming he was misled and coerced into giving up his role at the company’s helm