Viacom Acquiring VidCon (EXCLUSIVE)

Viacom is close to acquiring VidCon, Variety has learned from individuals with knowledge of the transaction.

VidCon is a popular online video conference held annually in southern California since 2010. VidCon will be an independent division of Viacom and will keep its offices.

Its leadership team will remain intact. A formal announcement is expected to be made later this week if the deal closes.

VidCon likely fits into Viacom’s efforts to connect with youth audiences, who gravitate more and more to digital platforms than the linear cable channels that are the conglomerate’s core assets. Just last month Viacom also acquired WhoSay, an influencer marketing firm that specializes in targeting young audiences online with branded content.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has been aggressive about remaking Viacom as the company looks to get back on its feet. He has also begun to engage CBS Corp. in a potential merger at the behest of National Amusements, which owns controlling interests in both conglomerates.

Often compared to Comic-Con, VidCon is a mix of young YouTuber fans who get a chance to mingle with their favorite stars, most of whom are barely older than them. While YouTube typically has a dominant presence at the event, other digital giants who court the influencer crowd have become more active in recent years including Facebook, Instagram and Musical.ly.

VidCon has also become an increasingly popular destination for media companies looking to promote upcoming movies and TV shows to the Generation Z crowd who tend to favor digital stars. Viacom has been a past participant, with Nickelodeon among the brands with a sizable presence on the show floor. NBCUniversal, Scripps and Fox have also made their presence known at the Anaheim-based event.

This year’s VidCon is scheduled to begin June 20; international editions of the event are also in operation, a nod to the robust overseas marketplace for digital influencers. The 2017 flagship event attracted more than 30,000 attendees.