Verizon Communications said Wednesday that it has reached an agreement to purchase a 24.5% interest in AwesomenessTV in a deal that will values the multi-platform programmer at $650 million.
DreamWorks Animation, which formed AwesomenessTV in 2013, will remain is majority shareholder with 51% ownership, while Hearst will own the remaining 24.5%. Brian Robbins, AwesomenessTV founder and CEO, and Brett Bouttier, AwesomenessTV’s president, will continue to lead the Company.
In addition to its equity investment, Verizon will enter into an agreement with AwesomenessTV to create a premium short-form mobile video service, which will operate as an independent brand. The new service will launch as part of the go90 offering and Verizon will fund the initiative through a multi-year agreement with AwesomenessTV.
“In addition to delivering compelling scripted and non-scripted series with high production values, AwesomenessTV has demonstrated an ability to zero in on programming that Gen Z and millennials want to watch,” said Verizon executive vice president and president of Product & New Business Innovation Marni Walden in a statement . “The content AwesomenessTV has produced for go90 has exceeded all our expectations with shows such as Guidance and Top Five Live. That’s why we want to be in the AwesomenessTV business."
The new premium content service will initially be exclusive to Verizon platforms in the United States, while AwesomenessTV will retain rights for the rest of the world.
“This deal gives us the resources to work with the biggest talent in front of andbehind 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. “With Verizon joining DreamWorks Animation and Hearst as part of our equity ownership group, we benefit from the strategic insight and resources of the entertainment and communications industries’ most visionary companies and leaders. Our goal is to be the media company of the future, where content and distribution go hand in hand – we are now one giant step closer to that future."
“The creation of this new branded service represents a transformational step, not just for AwesomenessTV, but also for the entire mobile video landscape,” said DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg in a statement. “This agreement is clearly impactful for AwesomenessTV – with annual revenues expected to more than double in the first 12 months of content delivery – and even more exciting is the expansion of our relationship with Verizon, one of the world’s most powerful marketers and content distributors, and their commitment to explore with us this incredible opportunity.”
LionTree Advisors LLC acted as advisor to Verizon during this transaction and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC advised DreamWorks Animation. The transaction is expected to close in the next 60 days.