Hearst Corp. buys 25% stake in AwesomenessTV

Hearst Corp. buys 25% stake in AwesomenessTV from DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks Animation has sold a 25% stake in its popular YouTube teen network AwesomenessTV to Hearst Corp.

The New York-based media company, which holds interests in cable channels ESPN and A&E and the magazines Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, purchased the stake for $81.25 million and will partner with DreamWorks to grow the channel, the companies said in a statement.

AwesomenessTV founder Brian Robbins and Brett Bouttier, the channel's president, will continue to lead the Santa Monica company, which DreamWorks acquired last year for $33 million.

“Few companies have built the global audience of millennial females as quickly as AwesomenessTV,” said Steven R. Swartz, Hearst Corp.'s president and chief executive. “For us, it’s very important to make a bet on the future of how content is created. Together, in partnership with DreamWorks, we see great opportunity in supporting the consumer media franchise that AwesomenessTV continues to build.”

DreamWorks and Hearst plan to work together to support AwesomenessTV's efforts to enter into new content channels, broaden its audience and expand its geographic reach. AwesomenessTV also will gain access to Hearst’s subscription video-on-demand technology.

“We’re delighted with the opportunity to partner with Hearst, in part because it has outstanding global brands, a very valuable international presence and industry-leading technology, and also because of its demonstrated track record of successfully partnering with media companies and supporting their growth trajectories,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation.

AwesomenessTV has grown over the last two years into one of the Web's biggest multichannel networks for emerging online talent, with an average of nearly 800 million monthly views and a subscriber base that now totals over 114 million. The channel has served as an important launching pad for YouTube stars.

“Brian Robbins and Brett Bouttier are democratizing media by enabling young talent to create their own content, be discovered by their peers and then be showcased across AwesomenessTV's network of channels, as well as television shows and even movies,” said Neeraj Khemlani, co-president of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication and president of Hearst Digital Studios.

“Hearst has a strong track record of identifying emerging media companies and trends which will be invaluable as we enter into our next phase of growth and look to solidify our position as a leading, next-generation media brand,” Robbins said.

DreamWorks has been accelerating its expansion into television and digital media to lessen its reliance on animated movies, which have generated mixed results in recent years. The studio launched a family-oriented YouTube channel this summer.

Earlier this week, DreamWorks announced plans to a launch a kids and family entertainment TV channel in Asia.

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