Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Variety first reported Monday that Viacom was near a deal to acquire the confab, which began in 2010. UTA, which represents VidCon, brokered the deal with Viacom. UTA will continue to rep VidCon, overseeing sponsorship sales globally and helping to expand the conference internationally.
The move is part of Viacom’s efforts to expand beyond its TV legacy into next-generation entertainment platforms, as well as to expand the media conglomerate’s live-events business. The acquisition also raises the prospect of VidCon coverage being carried on Viacom’s cable nets, which include Nickelodeon and MTV. (A Viacom rep said there are currently no plans for VidCon-related TV programming.)
There’s some irony in the deal: In 2007, Viacom sued Google and YouTube over copyright infringement — seeking $1 billion in damages — before settling the case in 2014. Ten years later, Viacom is buying the biggest event dedicated to YouTube creators and businesses.
VidCon was founded by YouTube’s popular Vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green. In 2017, VidCon’s flagship event in Anaheim, Calif., attracted more than 30,000 attendees, 80 sponsors, and 45 exhibitors.
“VidCon has become the foremost gathering place for the passionate online video community, and the access to talent, experts and education that VidCon provides for attendees is unparalleled,” said Jason Jordan, Viacom’s EVP of multiplatform strategy and operations, said in announcing the pact.
VidCon has also introduced events in Europe and Australia, and Viacom sees an opportunity to expand the conference franchise footprint to new international and domestic markets.
Under the deal, VidCon will remain a standalone subsidiary operating independently, according to Viacom. VidCon will continue to be led by CEO Jim Louderback and remain in its current offices in Montana. Co-founder Hank Green will continue be involved and work closely with the team.
“I’m so happy that we found such a strong, successful, and progressive company to give our team the stability and resources needed to make bold moves at home and grow what we’re doing internationally,” Hank Green said in a statement, adding that Viacom “has decades of expertise creating incredible live events for fans.”
Over the past year, Viacom has been ratcheting up its focus on social media and internet video — an attempt to reach Gen Z and millennial audiences, demos have been at the core of its TV properties.
Last month Viacom acquired Whosay, an influencer marketing firm incubated by CAA that specializes in targeting young audiences online with branded content. And in the fall of 2017, Viacom hired Kelly Day — previously chief business officer for Awesomeness — to run a newly formed digital studio dedicated to short-form content.