YouTube multichannel networks are the must-have item on every major media company’s Christmas wish list this year. 2014 has seen most of the major players in MCN-land snapped up by large media conglomerates looking to get their foot in the online video door. The big time demand for MCN’s means that if you already own one it can be a great way to generate some extra cash. That’s what DreamWorks Animation demonstrated yesterday when they announced the sale of a 25% stake in their teen-focused MCN, AwesomenessTV, to publishing and media giant Hearst in a deal worth $81.75 million.
Aside from a healthy pile of cash for DreamWorks, AwesomenessTV also gains a powerful new ally in the form of The Hearst Corporation. Among the company’s major holdings are some 300 print magazines including household names like Esquire, Cosmopolitan, and Elle as well as some 29 TV networks including A+E and ESPN. According to DreamWorks, the new partnership will focus on building “new content channels.” More importantly, Hearst brings with it the technology Awesomeness needs to grow into the lucrative subscription video on demand (SVOD) market across multiple platforms. That means less reliance on YouTube and more money from paid premium programming.
This isn’t the first time the two companies have worked together. Back in September AwesomenessTV partnered with Hearst’s Seventeen to help the magazine develop its online video presence. AwesomenessTV was tasked with helping Seventeen to develop it’s own miniature network of original channels. That partnership may have been a dry run for the much larger integration announced yesterday.
AwesomenessTV launched in 2012, and in two short years has become a major player on the MCN scene. Currently ATV boasts over 114 million subscribers across its network of 90,000 channels. After being acquired by DreamWorks Animation in 2013, it quickly put its new resources to work, scooping up talent-focused MCN Big Frame in April of 2014. The network is home to big name YouTube and Vine talent like Ingrid Nilsen, Tyler Oakley, and Cameron Dallas, and big name partnerships with Nickelodeon and Universal Music Group. The network has produced several popular web series and recently launched its first feature film, the Cameron Dallas vehicle Expelled.