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Fandom Site Movie Pilot Acquired by France’s Webedia Digital Media Group (EXCLUSIVE)

Paris-based publishing group Webedia has acquired majority control of Creators Media, the L.A.-based company that runs entertainment fan site Movie Pilot and video channel Super News covering nerd culture.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Webedia will own the “vast majority” of the company, while co-founders Tobi Bauckhage and Jon Handschin will retain small equity stakes, according to Bauckhage, CEO of Creators Media. [See related story: Movie Pilot’s Sale to Webedia Came After Huge Layoff in Pivot to Video.]

In September 2015, Webedia led Movie Pilot’s Series B financing round of $16 million, after acquiring the German version of the site (moviepilot.de) the year prior for $20 million.

Webedia previously held roughly 25% ownership in Creators Media and bought out previous investors DFJ, Grazia Equity, Deutsche Telekom Venture Funds, Investitionsbank Berlin, and individual investors including Riccardo Zacconi, co-founder and CEO of King Digital (acquired by Activision Blizzard) and Bustle CEO Bryan Goldberg.

The deal is part of a bigger push by Webedia into the U.S. market. Earlier this year Webedia bought L.A.-based 3BlackDot, a big video-game influencer network whose backers had included Legendary Entertainment.

In 2018, Webedia said, it plans to make “further substantial investments in the U.S.” including acquisitions. “We’ve known the Movie Pilot/Super News founders for a long time and we are very happy to have them now fully on board for Webedia’s U.S. expansion,” Nicolas John, who oversees Webedia Productions’ U.S. activities, said in a statement.

Bauckhage added, “We are very happy about this deal because it positions ourselves better in a current market that demands scale.”

Movie Pilot, focused on millennial entertainment fans, reaches an audience of over 30 million across its social channels. The Super News channel broadcasts daily on Facebook and Instagram; next year, the company plans to expand Super News to other networks such as Twitter, Twitch and YouTube.

Creators Media’s current business model is geared around production and distribution of branded content. Movie Pilot and Super News partner with movie studios and streaming services to promote new movies and TV shows with custom video content. In 2017, the company’s brands have produced live shows, custom content and social-video series for partners including Hulu, Netflix, Sony Home Entertainment, Paramount, BBC America, Lionsgate and Focus Features.

With the deal, Movie Pilot and Super News will become part of Webedia Productions’ global activities, including all premium content production studios, from feature film production to video-game development and scripted or unscripted short- and long-form video content. There are no staff changes planned with Webedia’s acquisition, according to Bauckhage. [UPDATE: The company engaged in a restructuring that began in September, in a pivot toward video and away from text-based articles, which is resulting in upwards of 80 employees losing their jobs.] He added that Movie Pilot’s Aaron Kelly and Phil Walden will take over day-to-day operational management of Super News starting Jan. 1.

Creators Media is based in Venice Beach, Calif. The company has about 50 full-time employees, according to Bauckhage.

Webedia operates a global network of about 20 media brands and 100 websites, including AlloCiné, IGN.de, GameStar, GamePro, and PurePeople, and has operations in 10 countries including the U.S., France, Brazil, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Webedia’s brands and influencer network (which includes stars like Vanoss and elrubiusOMG) reach 180 million monthly unique visitors and generate over 3.5 billion monthly video views on YouTube.

Webedia itself is owned by French investment company Fimalac, acquired the group in 2013. In 2016, Webedia generated revenue of $210 million, according to Fimalac.

Pictured above: BBC America and Super News Live’s “Doctor Who” cosplay show at 2017 San Diego Comic-Con International.

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