Verizon has worked out a deal to purchase 24.5% of AwesomenessTV, valuing the multiplatform media outfit at $650 million. Verizon’s stake will be equal to that of Hearst. DreamWorks Animation, which acquired AwesomenessTV in 2013, will remain the majority stakeholder with an approximate 51% ownership.
Brian Robbins, AwesomenessTV founder and CEO, and Brett Bouttier, president, will continue to lead the company.
Verizon will also enter into an agreement with AwesomenessTV to create a short-form mobile video service featuring what it describes as leading talent in front of and behind the camera. The service will operate as a new and independent brand and will launch as part of Verizon’s Go90 network. Verizon will fund the initiative through a multi-year agreement with AwesomenessTV.
The new channel will initially be exclusive to Verizon platforms in the United States, while AwesomenessTV will retain the right to sell content in the rest of the world.
“In addition to delivering compelling scripted and non-scripted series with high production values, AwesomenessTV has demonstrated an ability to zero in on programming that Gen Z and millennials want to watch,” said Marni Walden, executive VP and president of product & new business innovation, Verizon. “The content AwesomenessTV has produced for Go90 has exceeded all our expectations with shows such as Guidance and Top Five Live. That’s why we want to be in the AwesomenessTV business.”
The participants expect that the transaction will be completed within the next 60 days.
“This deal gives us the resources to work with the biggest talent in front of and behind the camera to create this new branded service and produce the most premium short-form content ever, made specifically for the device racking up the fastest growing viewership–the mobile phone,” said Robbins. “With Verizon joining DreamWorks Animation and Hearst as part of our equity ownership group, we benefit from the strategic insight and resources of the entertainment and communications industries’ most visionary companies and leaders.”
Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, called the new branded service “a transformational step” both for AwesomenessTV and the entire mobile video universe.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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