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Fullscreen, With Comcast and WPP Backing, to Expand Into Studio Model

Prior investor Chernin Group leads funding round in YouTube multichannel network

Fullscreen, a top YouTube multichannel network operator, plans to expand into financing original content after closing a round of Series A funding led by Peter Chernin’s Chernin Group, a previous investor, along with Comcast Ventures and global ad agency WPP.

Fullscreen is profitable today and intends to use the funding to invest in original programming, as well as increase its international footprint and develop new tools for advertisers to use its platform.

Initial reports of the funding, which first surfaced in April, pegged the new round at $30 million. Size of the investment was not disclosed, but it’s “sizable” by Series A terms, according to Fullscreen CEO and founder George Strompolos. “We are raising capital not to keep our lights on, but to invest in the future of online video,” he said.

Fullscreen is just the latest YouTube multichannel network to attract big money from big media companies looking to participate in the massive growth of MCNs, which draw billions of streams worldwide to the thousands of low-cost channels they manage on YouTube. Time Warner led a $36 million round in Maker Studios late last year, followed by Bertlesmann’s $6.5 million funding in StyleHaul. Chernin has been a particularly active player in the MCN space, snapping up stakes in multiple international-centric firms including Base79 and MiTu.

More recently, Discovery Communications absorbed DeFranco Creative via its Revision3 unit and DreamWorks Animation grabbed AwesomenessTV, which recently began expanding its own base of YouTube channels.

SEE ALSO: Media Bigs Flock to YouTube Power Players

Comcast-owned NBC Entertainment was the first network to use Fullscreen to manage its presence on YouTube, said Sam Landman, principal at Comcast Ventures.

“As the video ecosystem evolves rapidly, Fullscreen is fusing technology and services to simplify operations and maximize opportunity for brand marketers and creators,” Landman said in a statement. “The company has done an incredible job raising the profile of top talent and brands, bringing their content to the forefront.”

For WPP, “Fullscreen’s model offers unique solutions for both brands and talent, and incredible opportunities for collaboration on both sides,” Mark Read, CEO of WPP Digital, said in a statement. “Our partnership with Fullscreen will give our agencies and clients new expertise, insights, technology and access to help connect with consumers on the world’s largest video platform.”

While Fullscreen is known as a network of YouTube creators, “you’ll see the evolution of us to Fullscreen as a studio,” Strompolos said. “We now can have a vested interest in certain (intellectual property) and fulfill our mission of becoming a global media company.”

Only a handful of companies have grown up with YouTube creators and understand how to make money on it, Strompolos continued.

“We think there’s a real opportunity to incubate and program some of the iconic media brands for millennials,” he said, referring to the 13-25 demo that gravitates to YouTube. “What is the Comedy Central for millennials? I don’t think that’s defined yet.”

Fullscreen, based in Culver City, Calif., generates 2.5 billion monthly video views from 10,000-plus channels and reaches more than 150 million subscribers. Strompolos founded the startup in January 2011. Fullscreen has about 160 employees.

Company’s client roster includes NBCUniversal and Ryan Seacrest Prods., as well as talent including dubstep violinist Lindsey Stirling and filmmaker Devin Super Tramp.

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