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Verizon takes Awesomeness stake

US telecoms giant Verizon has taken a 24.5% stake in DreamWorks Animation (DWA)’s online youth network AwesomenessTV (ATV), with the duo now preparing a new mobile streaming service.

Jeffrey Katzenberg

Jeffrey Katzenberg

Verizon and ATV will offer the ‘premium’ shortform service via the telco’s Go90 platform, focused on attracting young viewers watching programming on mobiles.

The project’s budget and name are being kept under wraps but Verizon said transactional on-demand content would compare with high-end TV series.

Verizon has already picked up ATV shows including Guidance and Top Five Live, and partnered to launch two OTT channels last year.

The new deal will see Verizon take exclusive rights to the new channel’s content in the US while Awesomeness will sell in the rest of the world.

The investment values ATV at US$650m and comes after DWA acquired the company in 2013 for US$33m. It now holds a 51% stake with media giant Hearst retaining 24.5%.

ATV president Brett Bouttier, along with CEO and founder Brian Robbins, will remain in place.

Robbins said the deal would allow his firm to produce “the most premium shortform content ever made” specifically for the mobile phone.

Marni Walden, exec VP at Verizon, said ATV had “demonstrated an ability to zero in on programming that Gen Z and millennials want to watch.”

wild_thingsJeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, said the “creation of this new branded service represents a transformational step, not just for AwesomenessTV, but also for the entire mobile video landscape,”

Earlier this year ATV struck a multi-year strategic partnership with Endemol Shine Group to grow its brand outside the US, while the digital company and Verizon also recently invested in US Hispanic-focused media agency operator MiTu.


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