Disney’s 2014 acquisition of Maker Studios stands as an important moment in web video history. It was the first time a major media company spent nine digits to acquire a multi-channel network; since then, several other MCNs have landed their own big paydays.
There’s no denying the importance of Disney’s Maker Studios deal, but right now, the main question about it concerns the amount of money Disney will actually pay for the MCN. The base price of the transaction was $500 million, but if Maker hit certain performance targets, the total could rise as high as $950 million.
The end date for those targets is the end of 2015, so Maker Studios’ final price tag will soon become official, and if a new report from Recode is to be believed, Maker isn’t likely to achieve its ultimate $950 million goal. Instead, the rumor is that Disney’s payout will be somewhere in the $700 million range. That would still be a massive haul, but Maker’s failure to hit all of its performance targets would raise questions about how much it has actually grown since the Mouse House took control.
Not helping matters, according to reporter Peter Kafka’s sources, is a fair amount of friction between Disney and Maker. Among other issues, Kafka cites corporate reshuffling at Disney and a lack of cohesiveness between the creative communities of the two companies. “They’re frustrated about how difficult it is to penetrate into the Disney creative community,” said one source, referring to Maker’s executives. “They thought they would have an unimpeded way to create new material with Disney assets.”
According to Kafka, these issues could cause big changes among Maker’s executive team. “There’s lots of speculation that Maker CEO Ynon Kreiz and other top execs will leave Disney at the end of this year — the same time that Maker’s earn-out period wraps up,” he writes. If the ongoing friction continues, the upcoming payout could lead to a big shakeup. We’ll get a more definitive answer at the end of the year.