DreamWorks Animation announced on Thursday that Hearst Corporation has acquired a 25% stake in its multi-platform media company AwesomenessTV for $81.25 million.
Founder Brian Robbins and president Brett Bouttier will continue to lead AwesomenessTV.
According to a statement, AwesomenessTV gains immediate access to Hearst’s “subscription video on demand services.” Presumably, this means the option is there for the youth-skewing network to experiment with a pay model. Hearst has experience in this realm — in June, the publishing giant launched a $9.95-per-month video network called CosmoBody.
DreamWorks Animation bought the MCN outright in May 2013 for a mere $33 million — Thursday’s announcement puts the company at a $325-million valuation.
There have been a flurry of merger and acquisitions rumors swirling around the animation studio in recent months. It was recently reported that DreamWorks was to be bought by Hasbro in a deal that would spin off the MCN business to Hearst. But the Hasbro deal was ultimately voted down by the toymaker’s board of directors. In September, Tokyo-based telecommunications giant SoftBank Corp. was in discussions to acquire DreamWorks Animation.
“Brian Robbins and Brett Bouttier are democratizing media by enabling young talent to create their own content, be discovered by their peers and then be showcased across AwesomenessTV’s network of channels, as well as television shows and even movies,” said Neeraj Khemlani, co-president of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication and president of Hearst Digital Studios, in a statement.
Awesomeness’s YouTube lineup includes channels from digital stars such as Cimorelli, Ingrid Nilsen (MissGlamorazzi), Tyler Oakley, Cameron Dallas and Nash Grier. It also has the talent management company Big Frame, a record company, Awesomeness Music, and a publishing arm, Awesomeness Ink. Its consumer products division launched the clothing line So Rad in Kohl’s stores September and opened its first retail outlet in Los Angeles last month (check out StreamDaily‘s video of the opening above).
“Few companies have built the global audience of millennial females as quickly as AwesomenessTV,” said Steven R. Swartz, president and CEO of Hearst Corporation, in a statement.
AwesomenessTV has also produced the live-action TV series adaptation of the comic book Richie Rich, debuting on Netflix in early 2015, and films Expelled, opening in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas on Friday, and The Smosh Movie, the latter in partnership with Defy Media.