Peter Kafka

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Vevo Gets Its Investor: Abu Dhabi Media Joins “Hulu for Music Videos”

vevo-logoVevo, the music industry’s version of Hulu, now has its own version of Providence Equity, the outside investor that took a flyer on the Web TV and movie joint venture: Abu Dhabi Media Company has purchased a stake in the company from owners Universal Music and Sony (SNE).

Terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed, but I’m told the transaction values the joint venture at $300 million. Google’s (GOOG) YouTube isn’t an owner in the JV but will share revenue in exchange for lending Vevo its massive distribution platform. The site, which will exist both outside YouTube and within YouTube as a branded channel with its own player, is scheduled to launch later this year.

Vevo has been seeking an outside money source for some time; PaidContent had previously reported the venture was looking for a $300 million valuation.

But the most important part about the outside money is that it’s outside: The investment is designed in large part to allay antitrust issues, given that Vevo’s existing owners represent two of the four major music labels. Providence provided the same cushion to Hulu, which was originally put together by GE’s (GE) NBC Universal and News Corp.’s (NWS) Fox.

Abu Dhabi Media, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi government, has made several forays into Western media, but until now, all of its deals have been focused on Hollywood. Two years ago, for instance, the company announced a $1 billion pact with Time Warner’s (TWX) Warner Brothers to finance movies and build a theme park, though that deal has yet to yield much activity. Earlier this month, it made a much more modest $10 million pledge to back Walter Parkes and Laurie McDonald, the movie producers who once ran DreamWorks studios.

Here’s the release:

VEVO PARTNERS WITH ABU DHABI MEDIA COMPANY

Abu Dhabi Media Company Joins Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment
for World Class Online Premium Music Service

New York, New York, Monday, October 19, 2009…VEVO, the new premium music video and entertainment service powered by YouTube, has received a strategic investment from Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC), one of the world’s fastest growing, multi-platform media organizations. The announcement was made today by Doug Morris, Chairman & CEO of Universal Music Group and Co-Chairman/Founder of VEVO, Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, Chief Executive Officer of Sony Music Entertainment & Co-Chairman of VEVO, Rio Caraeff, President & Chief Executive Officer of VEVO, H.E. Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazroui, Chairman of ADMC, and Edward Borgerding, Chief Executive Officer of ADMC. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

With this transaction, VEVO is now formed as an independent and fully funded entity with Universal Music Group (UMG), Sony Music Entertainment (SME) and Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) as founding shareholders. Funding from the shareholders will enable VEVO to come to market with an attractive premium music offering for consumers and advertisers alike.

Launching in the United States and Canada later this year with a further international roadmap to be announced, VEVO will be a premium destination and syndication network for the very best in top-notch music video content that will leverage the massive existing traffic of YouTube.

“This global partnership flags Abu Dhabi Media Company’s commitment to establish a leading position in the digital media industry. It is part of an integrated approach to expanding the global digital presence and brand portfolio of Abu Dhabi Media Company, and it illustrates our partnering approach with innovators in digital media services and technologies”, stated H.E. Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazroui, Chairman of ADMC, on joining UMG and SME to create VEVO.

“It’s a credit to the music community, and to the global opportunity that VEVO represents, that we have been able to attract such a solid investment partner with the vision and track record of Abu Dhabi Media Company,” commented Rio Caraeff, President & Chief Executive Officer of VEVO. “Abu Dhabi Media Company brings to the venture important funding support and a team with enormous global media experience and insight, and we look forward to working with them to seize the many opportunities ahead of us.”

“Consumer demand for music video entertainment is growing significantly today and is transforming the digital entertainment market and the music industry by fuelling new media business models. VEVO fits our vision and goals perfectly, as we are expanding our capabilities and continue to build the market for digital entertainment around the world.  VEVO will redefine the way premium music video entertainment is consumed, created and shared in a global community of music audiences,” said Edward Borgerding, Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Media Company

“We’re now entering a new exciting phase in the digital media industry in the region and we’re determined to be at the forefront of it”, added Ricky Ghai, ADMC’s Executive Director, Digital Group. “With VEVO there’s real opportunity for incredible growth, as both brand advertisers and consumers are looking for new premium video experiences online.”


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