Financial terms of the acquisition are not being disclosed.
Screen Junkies, home to popular parody series “Honest Trailers,” has more than 8 million YouTube subscribers across its channels and has generated over 2 billion views to date. Fandom, which is owned by Wikia Inc., attracts an audience of nearly 200 million monthly global unique visitors for more than 400,000 different communities that provide news, expert commentary and discussion boards across a wide span of topics, shows and characters.
In a statement, Defy Media said, “The future programming of the [Screen Junkies] brand requires increased focus and additional investment. When presented with the opportunity to sell Screen Junkies to Fandom, another highly respected name in movie and TV fan culture with similar brand alignment, it was clear that this was the right pathway for Screen Junkies and its audience.”
The sale of Screen Junkies comes less than a year since Andy Signore, creator of Screen Junkies and the “Honest Trailers” series, was fired for what Defy Media called “egregious and intolerable behavior” after Signore was accused by several women of sexual harassment and at least one woman alleged he tried to sexually assault her. Signore in 2012 launched the “Honest Trailers” series while working at Break Media, which merged with Alloy Digital in 2013 to form Defy Media.
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Defy Media’s unloading of Screen Junkies also comes after the company earlier this year cut 8% of its workforce, exiting its programmatic advertising and video licensing and syndication businesses. That’s led to complaints from partners that they haven’t been paid under prior agreements; Defy Media, whose core brands are Smosh and Clevver, says it’s communicating with partners about payment timelines.
Investors in Wikia, the for-profit company founded by Wikimedia Foundation’s Jimmy Wales and Angela Beesley Starling, include TPG, Bessemer, Amazon, IVP and Digital Garage.
Fandom chief content officer Dorth Raphaely said the company had been interested in teaming with Screen Junkies for about a year. “We’ve been targeting potential ways to get into the YouTube business,” Raphaely said. “We debated build-versus-buy, and in the end it made more business sense to partner with someone who’s built to reach exactly the audience we are.”
The Screen Junkies team for now will remain in its L.A. offices, but eventually may be combined in a new office space with Fandom’s Los Angeles team, which currently numbers 25 employees, Raphaely said. Overall, San Francisco-based Fandom has more than 300 employees worldwide.
On the video side, Fandom has 22 full-time staffers. The deal for Screen Junkies “was a way to really speed up our capabilities with high-quality video with a great point of view and credibility, and a distinct voice, with hardcore movies and TV fans,” Raphaely said. “We don’t want to break anything that’s working really well. The Fandom video team wants to learn from Screen Junkies.”
Screen Junkies GM Michael Chiang said that “we were looking for a partner that could help us do more… to serve these very high-involvement, high-touch fans.” He declined to comment on Signore’s firing last fall except to say the sale of Screen Junkies was an unrelated event: “We’re focusing on the future.”
Fandom and Screen Junkies plan to have a co-branded presence at San Diego Comic-Con International, which runs July 19-22.