Verizon has signed an agreement to purchase a 24.5% stake in AwesomenessTV, valuing the four-year-old, teen-leaning media company at $650 million and illuminating the telecommunications giant’s aspirations of becoming a major media player. Verizon did not disclose financial details of the transaction, though Variety pegged the purchase price at $159 million.
DreamWorks Animation, which acquired a majority stake in AwesomenessTV in 2013 for about $33 million (with the potential for $117 million in earnouts), will continue to retain its controlling interest in the company, with 51% of shares. Hearst, which invested $81 million in AwesomenessTV in 2014 in a deal that valued the company at $325 million, owns the remaining 24.5% of the company.
As part of the purchase, AwesomenessTV — which has already created shows like Guidance and Top Five Live for Verizon’s go90 video hosting platform — will launch a new video service as part of the go90 offering that is slated to “feature premium transactional content for a variety of audiences on par with the highest-end content seen on television today,” according to the companies. This ensuing content will be exclusive to Verizon platforms stateside, while AwesomenessTV can sell the content across the rest of the world. In addition to the AwesomenessTV team, Verizon said, the service “will draw upon the entire Hollywood community — studios, production companies, writers, directors and actors — for content creation.”
AwesomenessTV’s current leadership will remain intact after the transaction closes, which is expected to occur within the next 60 days. This includes founder and CEO Brian Robbins and president Brett Bouttier.
“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,” Robbins said in a statement. AwesomenessTV also creates content for a whole host of other distribution outlets, including YouTube Red.
Added DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg: “The creation of this new branded service represents a transformational step, not just for AwesomenessTV, but also for the entire mobile video landscape.” Katzenberg added that AwesomenessTV’s annual revenues are expected to more than double in the first year of the as-yet-unnamed service’s launch.
“AwesomenessTV has demonstrated an ability to zero in on programming that Gen Z and millennials want to watch,” said Marni Walden, Verizon’s EVP and president of product and new business innovation, in a statement. “That’s why we want to be in the AwesomenessTV business.”