Verizon agreed to purchase a 24.5 per cent stake in AwesomenessTV, a multi-platform media firm controlled by DreamWorks Animation which produces content for the operator’s go90 video app.
Upon completion, the media firm will be valued at about $650 million, Verizon said. In addition, AwesomenessTV will create a “first-of-its-kind premium short-form mobile video service featuring leading talent in front of and behind the camera” as part of the deal. The new service will be part of the go90 offering.
Go90 was introduced in September 2015 as an advertising-funded mobile app targeting teens and millennials with exclusive content from online video services, AwesomenessTV being one of them.
“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,” said Marni Walden, executive vice president and president of product and new business innovation at Verizon.
“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,” he said.
The service will initially be exclusive to Verizon platforms in the US, while AwesomenessTV will retain the right to sell content in the rest of the world.
In addition to its production resources and expertise, AwesomenessTV will draw upon the entire Hollywood community, including studios, production companies, writers, directors and actors, for content creation, Verizon said in a statement.
According to TechCrunch, AwesomenessTV’s network includes 90,000 video creators and over 16 billion views, with subscribers going from 143 million in October to 170 million today.
DreamWorks, which acquired AwesomenessTV in 2013, will stay the majority stakeholder, while Hearst, the US media firm, will own the remaining 24.5 per cent. Brian Robbins, AwesomenessTV founder and CEO, and Brett Bouttier, president, will continue in their roles.
Robbins believes the deal will give his company the resources to produce “the most premium short-form content ever, made specifically for the device racking up the fastest growing viewership – the mobile phone.”
Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, said annual revenues for AwesomnessTV are expected to more than double in the first 12 months of content delivery.
In May last year, Verizon bought AOL, the digital content and advertising platform provider, in a deal worth around $4.4 billion, to “further drive” its LTE and OTT video strategy, as well as bolster the its mobile ad platform.
Verizon has kept AOL separate from the core company and believes AOL can be made into “something special” by adding additional media pieces to it. For instance, AOL acquired Millennial Media in September.