Comcast is stepping into the digital, multi-channel network space through its $3.8 billion DreamWorks acquisition. But what does that mean for the fate of the DreamWorks-owned AwesomenessTV?
On Comcast's side, the acquisition gives it access to DreamWorks's successful animation division, which supports titles like the Kung Fu Panda series, How To Train Your Dragon series, and Shrek films. That also includes its Illumination Entertainment animation studio, which boasts the Despicable Me franchise. Overall, it's a play at rivaling Disney's dominance in the entertainment space.
The purchase also puts Comcast on par with Disney in its investment into the digital shortform space. In 2015 Disney purchased Maker Studios, making inroads toward the budding multi-channel network arena and a network of creatives to incorporate into the already-existing Disney IP.
DreamWorks's 51 percent stake in AwesomenessTV will pass to NBCUniversal under the deal, and DreamWorks will separate interests in AwesomenessTV and the tech company Nova into a new group called DreamWorks New Media. Jeffery Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks, will chair that division.
"Having spent the past two decades working together with our team to build DreamWorks Animation into one of the world’s most beloved brands, I am proud to say that NBCUniversal is the perfect home for our company; a home that will embrace the legacy of our storytelling and grow our businesses to their fullest potential," said Katzenberg in a statement. "As for my role, I am incredibly excited to continue exploring the potential of AwesomenessTV, NOVA and other new media opportunities, and can’t wait to get started."
The deal also connects Comcast with Verizon and Hearst, who each have deals for a 24.5 percent stake in place with AwesomenessTV. AwesomenssTV also owns Big Frame, the digital-focused talent management group that's home to stars like Tyler Oakley and Ingrid Nilsen. The NBCUniversal connection might further open distribution avenues for existing content, and could mean smoother transitions to traditional television formats. Deals are already in place connecting the companies, with NBC-owned Hulu acquiring the rights to AwesomenessTV's Freakish.
In essence, this move extends the available pipeline for digital talent to increase footprints, and for traditional media to reach digital talent to increase its legitimacy with the millennial demographic. NBCUniversal has previously made investments in BuzzFeed and Vox.
AwesomenessTV had no comment on the acquisition as of press time.