×

Viacom in Talks to Buy AwesomenessTV

Viacom is in advanced talks to acquire AwesomenessTV, the youth-skewing digital media company currently owned by Comcast, Verizon and Hearst, sources confirmed to Variety.

In the negotiations, Viacom is offering less than than half of AwesomenessTV’s previous $650 million valuation, according to a Bloomberg report, following an earlier post by VideoInk. The Awesomeness assets are seen as a good fit in the Viacom portfolio — and one source said financial terms under discussion are very attractive, characterizing the price well below $300 million.

Viacom declined to comment. Reps for AwesomenessTV didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Awesomeness is majority-owned by Comcast/NBCUniversal, which holds a 51% interest, with 24.5% stakes owned by Verizon and Hearst. The L.A.-based company has a distribution footprint that spans owned-and-operated, social, and subscription VOD platforms. Awesomeness’s business also includes a creative agency, a YouTube creator network, and brand partnerships division.

AwesomenessTV had a major deal with Verizon to produce short-form originals for go90, the ad-supported mobile-video service that the telco is shutting down this month.

Awesomeness was co-founded in 2012 by Brian Robbins, who exited as CEO in early 2017 and is now president of Viacom’s Paramount Players youth-focused entertainment production division. Last fall, Viacom recruited Kelly Day, previously chief business officer at AwesomenessTV exec as president of Viacom Digital Studios.

The familiarity of Robbins and Day with the Awesomeness business is another plus that’s fueled Viacom’s interest, sources say. The deal is still being worked out between Viacom and AwesomenessTV’s owners, and it’s possible they won’t clinch an agreement.

Viacom has recently been stepping up its investment in digital-media under CEO Bob Bakish. The company earlier this year acquired VidCon, the eight-year-old video-creator conference, and is planning to expand the event to London. The media conglomerate also recently bought Whosay, a New York-based influencer-marketing firm incubated by CAA that specializes in targeting young audiences online with branded content.

In 2013 DreamWorks Animation, under then-CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, bought AwesomenessTV in a deal worth at least $33 million — one of the first traditional media companies to place a sizable bet on original digital-video content. Comcast picked up Awesomeness after it completed the $3.8 billion acquisition of DWA.

Two years ago, Verizon paid about $159 million to acquire its stake in AwesomenessTV, giving the digital-media outfit a $650 million valuation. That was double what Awesomeness was valued at when Hearst invested in the company in 2014.

After Robbins left AwesomenessTV last year, the company tapped Jordan Levin, a veteran TV exec who helped launch the WB Network, as CEO. President Brett Bouttier quietly exited the company in May, after five and a half years with AwesomenessTV.

More Digital

  • Cash and Maverick Baker

    TikTok Stars Cash and Maverick Baker Sign With Shots Studios

    Cash and Maverick Baker, teen-brother digital influencers and musicians with big followings on the TikTok short-video social app, have signed with management company Shots Studios, whose talent roster also includes Lele Pons. Born and raised in Henryetta, Okla., the Baker brothers run a joint TikTok account (with 7 million followers) where they post comedy, lip-sync [...]

  • Redbox Free Live TV

    Why Redbox Is Moving Into Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Video

    Redbox, best known for its network of fire-engine-red DVD-rental kiosks, has thrown its hat into the free-TV ring — with an ad-supported service that looks a lot like ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV. The company’s Redbox Free Live TV service, which soft-launched earlier this month, is now available nationwide as of Tuesday (Feb. 18). Like Pluto TV’s [...]

  • Erika North

    Erika North Joins Amazon Studios in Asia (EXCLUSIVE)

    Seasoned Asian TV production executive, Erika North has joined Amazon as head of Asia-Pacific Originals at Amazon Studios. North’s LinkedIn profile was updated to show her new status since February. North did not respond to  enquiries, but an Amazon source with knowledge of the situation told Variety that she took up the role from Tuesday. [...]

  • HQ Trivia

    HQ Trivia Lives? CEO Claims He's Found Potential Buyer for Live Game-Show App

    Hold the phone, HQties — there might be a second act for HQ Trivia. The once-buzzy live game-show app, whose audience had declined after peaking two years ago, shut down last week after the company ran out of money and a deal to sell it fell through. Now Rus Yusupov, CEO of parent company Intermedia [...]

  • Dolan Twins

    Dolan Twins to Launch Their First Podcast (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Dolan Twins, sibling digital influencers who have a combined following of more than 50 million across internet platforms, are set to launch their first podcast: “Deeper With The Dolan Twins.” The new weekly podcast from 20-year-old Ethan and Grayson Dolan is being produced under an exclusive pact with Cadence13, a division of Entercom Communications’ [...]

  • Justin Bieber Changes album cover

    Following Lil Nas X, Justin Bieber Track Is Latest to Highlight Online Marketplace

    A shout-out on social media from Justin Bieber has brought some additional shine to Splice Sounds, the popular platform for rights-cleared sounds and beats. The track “Running Over,” from Bieber’s album “Changes” and featuring Lil Dicky, was produced by The Audibles and is based on a loop created by British artist Laxcity and uploaded to Splice. [...]

  • LadBaby at Abbey Road Studio, London,

    Facebook Leans on Local Creators to Grow Watch and Hit New Target Areas

    As Facebook leans into sports, non-scripted and select scripted properties, it’s increasingly looking to an army of creators rather than A-list celebrities to tap into all three target areas as they grow businesses on the Watch platform. Facebook’s newly appointed head of entertainment media partnerships for Northern Europe Anna Higgs tells Variety, “The Watch strategy [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content