The Cannes TV Festival used to be a pretty one-way market for U.S. producers. Not many foreign shows played well in the U.S.
The international market changed, probably with the help of reality shows. Their formats were imported here by the boatload until American producers could build up enough homegrown bad taste to invent their own.
And then, streaming media opened up the world. Series like “Narcos” were made with an eye on places other than the U.S. and Netflix, Amazon and others need worldwide audiences to make themselves irresistible to viewers in foreign nations. YouTube gave the most unlikely stars a worldwide platform--probably its least heralded accomplishment- and gave brands like AwesomenessTV the kind of exposure most movie studios would die for.
Today AwesomenessTV the United Kingdom’s ITV are announcing a partnership that tightens that once-improbable international link. ITV2 and ITV Hub digital site will get exclusive UK rights to AwesomenessTV’s GenZ-oriented long-form premium series, and will co-produce youth-skewed series. The shows include “Guidance” and “Tagged” now on the Verizon’s go90 platform, and the upcoming “Freakish” for Hulu, Variety reported.
ITV is acquiring 75 hours of AwesomenessTV programming, going up to 100 hours a year after that. By early next year, the AwesomenessTV programming will form the spine of a new “extended weekend program” with youthful hosts on ITV2, the hugely popular free-to-air channel that has a sizable young audience and a lot of American shows, including “Two and a Half Men” and “”Family Guy.”
Together they’ll produce shows for worldwide markets, including, presumably, the U.S., where ITV is already a major programming exporter.
AwesomenessTV turns out to have been aptly named. It started in 2012 with one YouTube channel. It had a billion views within the first year and by the next year, it was acquired by DreamWorks Animation for $33 million--the first of the multi-channel networks to find a buyer from an established power player. It now has 90,000 YouTube channels and 150 million subscribers, and has expanded to other platforms, most notably Go90. It has movie, music and merchandising divisions, and has produced shows seen on Netflix and Nickelodeon.
Earlier this year, Hearst paid $81 million for a one-quarter stake in AwesomenessTV and a little later Verizon paid $159 million for another quarter of the pie. After the Verizon deal, AwesomenessTV was valued at $650 million.
Then, just before NewFronts, Comcast’s NBC Universal bought DreamWorks altogether for $3.8 billion.
That’s quite a ride up.