Rumors that come true much later seem to be so 20th century, but one of those glacially created what-ifs came through this morning: Otter Media, the joint venture between AT&T and the Chernin Group, announced they have purchased a majority stake in Fullscreen, after months (and months) of speculation.
The deal is worth $200 million to $300 million, reports Re/Code, which is lower than the $500 million Disney paid for Maker Studios -- with other boosters that could have almost doubled that price. But it’s hard to know all the deal points and if/thens in either of those transactions.
Otter was chasing Hulu around a year ago until Hulu took itself off the market. But the two companies pledged to spend $500 million buying up streaming content makers, and earlier this year, Otter bought Creativebug from Demand Media, but just for millions that are sort of pocket change -- maybe $10 million. Chernin Group also owns anime site Crunchyroll, which is now part of Otter.
Chernin, former COO at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., already owned a chunk of Fullscreen, a multichannel YouTube network started by George Strompolos, who previously worked at YouTube and was instrumental in starting its Partners Network, by which newbie content makers got a financial hand to help them produce programming.
Out of that, naturally, grew Fullscreen, which now has channels with 450 million subscribers, 50,000 content creators and 4 billion monthly views.
Strompolos and others in the Fullscreen executive positions will remain where they are, based in Los Angeles. Big stars include The Fine Bros, Connor Franta, O2L and Jack and Jack, which in some very young households in this country are household names. Fullscreencalls itself “The First Media Company for the Connected Generation,” although I suppose it would be accurate to add “But Owned By Giant Media Corporations Like Everything Else You See.”
And that’s the fact, Jack. In the way even YouTube channels are already becoming fully tangled into the Big Media environment, Comcast was also an early investor in Fullscreen, and now, you may have heard, Comcast is attempting to merge with Time Warner Cable, while AT&T is trying to acquire DirecTV.
If all that happens, they will each own a part of Fullscreen, it would appear. And so will WPP, which got into Fullscreen in 2013 when Chernin did, and will remain a strategic partner.