Verizon Bets on Mobile Video Again with AwesomenessTV

-‘We Want to Be in the AwesomenessTV Business’
-AwesomenessTV Pivots towards ‘Premium’ content with ‘Top Hollywood Talent’

Verizon has acquired a 24% stake in the online multi-channel network (MCN) AwesomenessTV. Verizon joins majority stake holder DreamWorks Animation and minority holder Hearst in the investment.

AwesomenessTV, which is one of the top performing MCNs on YouTube, has over 38 million subs and a half a billion video views.



Getting down with the kids: the AwesomenessTV front page


The financials of the deal haven’t been disclosed but the Verizon deal valued the MCN at $650 million.

AwesomenessTV is Verizon’s second large online video investment, after it acquired AOL last year. The investment is an indication of just how serious Verizon is about Go90, its free mobile Internet TV service.

AwesomenessTV has created a handful of original and exclusive series for Go90, including “Guidance” and “Top Five Live.”

It’s also another instance of Verizon’s interest in short-form Web content. Earlier this year, Verizon and Hearst announced a new Web video joint venture that’s focusing on creating and launching Web channels. The first two channels slated for launch sometime this spring include a news-comedy channel called Seriously.TV and RatedRed a Millennial-focused lifestyle channel for viewers in “red states.”

“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.

As part of the deal, AwesomenessTV will create a new transactional service that’ll offer premium short-form content “produced by top Hollywood talent,” the companies said. “The new service will operate as a new and independent brand, and feature premium transactional content for a variety of audiences on par with the highest-end content seen on television today.  The new service will launch as part of the Go90 offering andVerizon will fund the initiative through a multi-year agreement with AwesomenessTV.”

The new premium content service will initially be exclusive to Verizon’s Go90 in the US, but AwesomenessTV will be able to sell rights to the content in international territories. AwesomenessTV said under the deal it will be able to “draw upon the entire Hollywood community – studios, production companies, writers, directors and actors – for content creation.”

The first slate of short-form programming will appear by the end of 2016. The MCN, which grew to prominence by creating short-form comedy content, is now looking to dip some toes in the premium original content waters.

AwesomenessTV will “produce the most premium short-form content ever,” for the service, which like Go90 will be distributed exclusively on the smartphone, which AwesomenessTV’s founder Brian Robbins said is “the device racking up the fastest growing viewership.”

“Our goal is to be the media company of the future, where content and distribution go hand in hand,” he said.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, described the new service as…

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