Viacom’s AwesomenessTV Deal Worth More Than $50 Million: Sources

NBCU to retain ownership of the DreamWorksTV kids' channel on YouTube

Viacom’s deal to acquire AwesomenessTV, officially announced July 27, has an enterprise value worth at least $50 million, sources familiar with the deal told Variety.

One of the factors affecting the valuation: The agreement does not include DreamWorksTV, the YouTube kids’ entertainment channel Awesomeness launched four years ago, which will be retained by NBCUniversal.

But even excluding DreamWorksTV, it seemed as if Viacom nabbed Awesomeness for a steal. When Verizon paid about $159 million to acquire its stake in AwesomenessTV in 2016, that implied a $650 million valuation. That was double Awesomeness’ implied value when Hearst invested in the company in 2014.

However, sources said, DreamWorks Animation (which in 2013 bought ATV, then just one year old) and DWA’s subsequent owner, NBCUniversal, never internally valued the Awesomeness business on the basis of those investments. (Comcast/NBCU picked up the majority ownership of Awesomeness with the $3.8 billion acquisition of DreamWorks Animation.) Moreover, the bulk of the money that came from Verizon and Hearst was used by DWA for other purposes — and not invested in Awesomeness.

Reps for Viacom, AwesomenessTV and NBCU declined to comment.

Going forward, the DreamWorksTV business will be integrated into the NBCU Digital Enterprises group, led by president Maggie Suniewick.

The rest of the Awesomeness business, including the AwesomenessTV digital network, its film and TV studio business, the Awestruck lifestyle and entertainment brand aimed at millennial moms, and its in-house creative agency, will be integrated into the Viacom Digital Studios. That division is headed by Kelly Day, formerly chief business officer of Awesomeness, who joined Viacom last fall.

With Awesomeness coming into the Viacom fold, layoffs are expected in some corporate functions. Jordan Levin, who has served as AwesomenessTV’s CEO since May 2017, will depart after a transition period.

Awesomeness launched DreamWorksTV in 2014, overseen by then-CEO Brian Robbins (who left last year to join Viacom as president of Paramount Players). Currently, the YouTube channel has 4.5 million subscribers and has generated 3 billion video views to date.

DreamWorksTV has featured a slate of more than 100 original, short-form content series aimed at kids, spanning comedy, life hacks, music and gaming, with its most popular shows including “Life Hacks for Kids” and “Junk Drawer Magic.” The YouTube channel also has served as an outlet to promote DreamWorks Animation’s characters and franchises, as well as original series for Netflix like “Trolls: The Beat Goes On” and “The Boss Baby: Back in Business.”

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