DreamWorks Animation announced on Thursday that Hearst Corporation has acquired a 25% stake in its multiplatform media company AwesomenessTV for US$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 US$33 million—Thursday’s announcement puts the company at a US$325-million valuation.
There has 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.
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 talent management company Big Frame, record company Awesomeness Music and publishing arm Awesomeness Ink. The MCN’s consumer products division launched the clothing line So R.a.d. in Kohl’s stores this September and opened a pop-up store in L.A. last month.
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 today in New York, L.A. and Dallas, and The Smosh Movie in partnership with Defy Media.