NEW YORK – Verizon today announced it has entered into an agreement to purchase an approximate 24.5% stake in AwesomenessTV (the “Company”). Upon completion of this transaction, the AwesomenessTV multi-platform media company will be valued at approximately $650 million. DreamWorks Animation (Nasdaq: DWA), which acquired AwesomenessTV in 2013, will remain the Company’s majority stakeholder with an approximate 51% ownership of outstanding shares, while Hearst will own the remaining 24.5%. Brian Robbins, AwesomenessTV founder and CEO, and Brett Bouttier, AwesomenessTV’s president, will continue to lead the Company.
In addition to its equity investment, Verizon will enter into an agreement with AwesomenessTV to create a first-of-its-kind premium short-form mobile video service featuring leading talent in front of and behind the camera. The new service will operate as a new and independent brand, and feature premium transactional content for a variety of audiences on par with the highest-end content seen on television today. The new service will launch as part of the go90 offering and Verizon will fund the initiative through a multi-year agreement with AwesomenessTV.
“In addition to delivering compelling scripted and non-scripted series with high production values, AwesomenessTV has demonstrated an ability to zero in on programming that Gen Z and millennials want to watch,” said Marni Walden, executive vice president and president of Product & New Business Innovation, Verizon. “The content AwesomenessTV has produced for go90 has exceeded all our expectations with shows such as Guidance and Top Five Live. That’s why we want to be in the AwesomenessTV business.”
The new premium content service will initially be exclusive to Verizon platforms in the United States, while AwesomenessTV will retain the right to sell content in the rest of the world. In addition to the production resources, expertise and marketing know-how of the team at AwesomenessTV, the partners will draw upon the entire Hollywood community – studios, production companies, writers, directors and actors – for content creation.
“This deal gives us the resources to work with the biggest talent in front of and behind the camera to create this new branded service and produce the most premium short-form content ever, made specifically for the device racking up the fastest growing viewership – the mobile phone,” said AwesomenessTV’s Brian Robbins. “With Verizon joining DreamWorks Animation and Hearst as part of our equity ownership group, we benefit from the strategic insight and resources of the entertainment and communications industries’ most visionary companies and leaders. Our goal is to be the media company of the future, where content and distribution go hand in hand – we are now one giant step closer to that future.”
“The creation of this new branded service represents a transformational step, not just for AwesomenessTV, but also for the entire mobile video landscape,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation. “This agreement is clearly impactful for AwesomenessTV – with annual revenues expected to more than double in the first 12 months of content delivery – and even more exciting is the expansion of our relationship with Verizon, one of the world’s most powerful marketers and content distributors, and their commitment to explore with us this incredible opportunity.”
LionTree Advisors LLC acted as advisor to Verizon during this transaction and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC advised DreamWorks Animation. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions. The parties currently expect that the transaction will be completed within the next 60 days.