Consider it another sign of the meeting of new and old media: DreamWorks Animation confirmed rumors on Wednesday that it will indeed purchase the popular YouTube network AwesomenessTV for $33 million in cash, with more than an additional $100 million if the company continues to be as successful as expected over the next two years.
In a statement announcing the news, the two companies boasted that the deal meant DreamWorks Animation – a separate company from the larger DreamWorks Studios – has now acquired what they call “a thriving next generation media company.” AwesomenessTV has, the statement explains, “already signed up over 55,000 channels, aggregating over 14 million subscribers and 800 million video views” through its Multi-Channel Network on YouTube to expand from mobile into television and film.
It’s those latter plans that likely piqued the interest of DreamWorks Animation. As part of the deal, AwesomenessTV’s CEO and founder Brian Robbins will not only continue to oversee the company he built by “cultivating the brand’s distinctive content,” he’ll also get an executive role within DreamWorks Animation. Robbins will be creating a DreamWorks Animation digital family channel that will find new ways for the studio to exploit its current properties such as Shrek, Madagascar, and the Kung-Fu Panda franchise.
Robbins was praised by DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, who said that he has “an extraordinary track record in creating family content both for traditional and new platforms and his expertise in the TV arena will be invaluable as we grow our presence in that space.” YouTube’s global head of content, Robert Kyncl, added his own compliments, saying that “in a very short time, Brian Robbins has built AwesomenessTV into a powerful, next-generation, audience network on YouTube,” and suggesting that “DreamWorks Animation’s acquisition is symbolic of the incredible evolution of online entertainment and continues the exciting momentum of creators on the platform.”
Robbins wasn’t above joining in on the lovefest, saying that DreamWorks Animation’s purchase of AwesomenessTV “speaks to Jeffrey’s vision for the future of entertainment, the immense appetite for new kinds of storytelling and the power and reach of YouTube.”
DreamWorks Animation is reportedly paying $33 million in cash for the company, with a further $117 million available should AwesomenessTV and the joint projects between the two perform as expected throughout 2014 and 2015. It remains to be seen quite what DreamWorks Animation has planned for its digital strategy beyond the mentioned YouTube channel, although it is telling that Katzenberg mentioned TV projects as something that Robbins will be assisting on. Will there be a greater crossover between television and digital in DreamWorks’ future? Time – and future announcements – will tell.