NEW YORK, April 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- 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.
AwesomenessTV is a multi-platform media company owned by DreamWorks Animation (Nasdaq: DWA) and Hearst, the latter of which has a 25% interest. Included under the AwesomenessTV banner are AwesomenessTV, a leading destination for original programming serving the global Gen Z audience; the ATV Network, a global creator community; Big Frame, an influencer talent management company; DreamWorksTV; Awestruck; Awesomeness Films; Wildness; as well as consumer products, music and branded entertainment divisions. AwesomenessTV was founded by Brian Robbins (Smallville, Varsity Blues, All That) and Joe Davola (In Living Color, Smallville, MTV Networks). Check out www.awesomenesstv.com.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) employs a diverse workforce of 177,700 and generated nearly $132 billion in 2015 revenues. Verizon operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide. Headquartered in New York, the company also provides communications and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers worldwide.
About DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Animation (Nasdaq: DWA) creates high-quality entertainment, including CG animated feature films, television specials and series and live entertainment properties, meant for audiences around the world. The company has world-class creative talent, a strong and experienced management team and advanced filmmaking technology and techniques. All of DreamWorks Animation's feature films are produced in 3D. The company has theatrically released a total of 32 animated feature films, including the franchise properties of Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, Puss In Boots and The Croods.
Hearst is one of the nation's largest diversified media, information and services companies with more than 360 businesses. Its major interests include ownership in cable television networks such as A&E, HISTORY, Lifetime and ESPN; majority ownership of global ratings agency Fitch Group; Hearst Health, a group of medical information and services businesses; 30 television stations such as WCVB-TV in Boston and KCRA-TV in Sacramento, Calif., which reach a combined 19 percent of U.S. viewers; newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle and Albany Times Union, more than 300 magazines around the world including Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper's BAZAAR and Car and Driver; digital services businesses such as iCrossing and KUBRA; and investments in emerging digital and video companies such as BuzzFeed, VICE and AwesomenessTV. Follow us on Twitter @HearstCorp and subscribe to Hearstlink.
DreamWorks Animation Caution Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
This document includes certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The Company's plans, prospects, strategies, proposals and DreamWorks Animation's beliefs and expectations concerning performance of its current and future releases and anticipated talent, directors and storyline for its upcoming films and other projects, constitute forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections about the industry in which DreamWorks Animation operates and management's beliefs and assumptions. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions which are difficult to predict. Actual results may vary materially from those expressed or implied by the statements herein due to changes in economic, business, competitive, technological and/or regulatory factors, and other risks and uncertainties affecting the operation of the business of DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. These risks and uncertainties include: audience acceptance of DreamWorks Animation's films, our dependence on the success of a limited number of releases each year, the increasing cost of producing and marketing feature films, piracy of motion pictures, the effect of rapid technological change or alternative forms of entertainment and our need to protect our proprietary technology and enhance or develop new technology. In addition, due to the uncertainties and risks involved in the development and production of animated feature projects, the release dates for the projects described in this document may be delayed. For a further list and description of such risks and uncertainties, see the reports filed by us with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our most recent annual report on Form 10-K and our most recent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. DreamWorks Animation is under no obligation to, and expressly disclaims any obligation to, update or alter its forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, changes in assumptions or otherwise.
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