Global broadcaster MTG is making good on its vow to deepen its digital footprint with news this week of a majority-share purchase in Europe’s largest multi-channel network, Zoomin.TV.
The deal, worth an estimated €45 million (U.S. $48.5 million), sees MTG acquire 51% of Zoomin, an Amsterdam-based MCN that focuses mainly on world news, human-interest and documentary-style original shorts. It also produces videogaming content.
Jan Riemer (pictured right), Zoomin CEO, will retain his title, and, along with co-founder Bram Bloemberg, continue to drive the company’s development.
Riemer told StreamDaily the sale will allow the company to grow its content offerings, adding scripted and longer-form docs to the mix.
Zoomin already has 100-million subscribers worldwide on YouTube, with a network that includes 2,000 publishers, including Yahoo, AOL, Bild and Telegraaf. It produces about 400 short videos daily in 18 languages and across 27 categories via a team of video journalists around the world.
Riemer said the company began actively looking for a buyer last year in the wake of a string of sales of American MCNs to larger media companies. (Among them, Maker’s 2014 acquisition by Walt Disney Company and Fullscreen by Otter Media.)
Zoomin, though ranked the fifth largest MCN in the world, was finding it it increasingly difficult to compete in a new landscape fueled by hundreds of millions of investment dollars.
“We needed to accelerate, and the only way to do that is to get yourself a partner in a larger company that is already in the business,” said Riemer.
Riemer said the company was in talks with an unnamed U.S. buyer before going ahead with MTG. He said the final decision was not based just on money. Company culture also played a major role.
“The way of doing business in Europe is slightly different than doing business in America and it helps when you know how it is done together,” said Riemer.
He added, the sheer size of Zoomin relative to other European digital networks, made it a big deal to MTG.
“We felt with this partner we are important to them and they are important to us,” he said.
Riemer has been with the company since 2003, when it started out producing online video for various media outlets. The company stopped using news agency video (supplied by Reuters and AP, etc.) about five years ago and began producing its own original content with an eye on building a millennial audience.
Younger viewers want the news, said Riemer, but they don’t want to see it through “a glass window,” a format he attributes to traditional news-media agencies.
Zoomin’s approach is to tell the story behind the story: “Not the breaking news, but what happens next,” said Riemer. “It gives us a completely different perspective on the stories we are trying to bring.”
Zoomin will now look to build its audience and its advertisers in Europe, as well as North and South America. The company began its push into the U.S. last year. More recently, it appointed former AOL exec Matt J. Slan as its new VP sales in Los Angeles. Zoomin is also expanding its team in Miami, with a focus on broading its Spanish-language content.
The deal is the latest move by MTG, headquartered in Sweden, into the digital world. Earlier this month, the company increased its shares in Swedish MCN Splay, to 81%, from 49%. Splay, which has a strong Scandinavian audience base, has a network that generates more than 120 million monthly views across 430 YouTube channels.
In a statement, MTG reps said Splay will leverage Zoomin’s global distribution network to promote its web talent, while, in turn, providing influencer marketing tools to Zoomin and its publisher network.
“The now-global digital footprint and advertising sales capability of this combined group will benefit all of MTG’s video entertainment products,” said company reps.