Commentary

Brian Robbins Exits AwesomenessTV

Brian Robbins, whose AwesomenessTV, probably the first to demonstrate the gold mine YouTube programming could be, announced he is leaving the multichannel powerhouse he built five years ago.

It’s hard to overestimate the quick success of teen-skewing AwesomenessTV that Robbins started in 2012 and sold in 2013, for $33 million, to Jeffrey Katzenberg’s DreamWorks Animation.

The deal was such a YouTube-affirming event it was announced on stage at YouTube’s NewFront event, but it marked only a modest burst for the growth of AwesomenessTV.

Brett Bouttier, the president, will take over as CEO. He is beginning a search for a new creative partner. Robbins, a former actor, and a producer of TV hits “One Tree Hill” and “Smallville,” will stick around at least through the transition phase.

Though the AwesomenessTV trajectory has been, well, awesome, it hit a snag recently when Verizon and AwesomenessTV said they were folding plans to debut a mobile-first standalone premium AwesomenessTV platform.

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That's a pull back VideoInk suggested, which might have been caused by awkward relations between new owner Comcast and minority investor Verizon. But AwesomenessTV is still a big contributor to Verizon’s mobile video network, Go90.

A month after AwesomenessTV started, it had 12 million subscribers. A year later, the multichannel network had 25 million and nearly 2 billion views.  

Hearst bought a stake in AwesomenessTV in 2014, when it claimed 114 million subscribers. When Verizon bought 25% of it in 2016, it had 170 million subscribers and over 16 billion views. Shortly thereafter, DreamWorks was acquired by Comcast, and AwesomenessTV with it.

Today, some estimates value AwesomenessTV at $400 million. 

AwesomenessTV was a prime example of why the “multichannel network” classification for successful YouTube channels fell into disuse over the years. It is a leading multiplatform network from mobile phones to Facebook to Snapchat.

“After an amazing ride, five fantastic years building an awesome company and brand alongside an incredible team of people, the time is right for me to pass the baton and seek new challenges,” Robbins wrote to his staff on Wednesday.

“The time is right for me to pass the baton and seek new challenges. We’ve exceeded any expectations I could have set when Joe and I started this journey, “ Robbins wrote, referring to cofounder Joe Davola.  “What began as a YouTube channel has turned into a global brand and the essential next generation media company for Generation Z.”

pj@mediapost.com

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