Peter Kafka

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DreamWorks Close to Buying AwesomenessTV, YouTube’s Would-Be Nickelodeon

awesomenesstv_babysittingLots of big media companies have been investing in YouTube video makers. Now it looks like one of them is going to buy one.

DreamWorks Animation is close to a deal to acquire AwesomenessTV, a YouTube network aimed squarely at teens and tweens, according to people familiar with the proposed transaction.

I don’t have a purchase price for Awesomeness, which launched last June and rounded up $3.5 million in funding, most of it from MK Capital. DreamWorks, which announced Q1 earnings earlier today, declined to comment. I haven’t heard back from Awesomeness’s reps.

Conceptually, the deal makes sense. Awesomeness, created by former child star Brian Robbins, was positioned as a next-generation version of Viacom’s Nickelodeon, targeting the kids who make up the core of YouTube’s audience.

YouTube featured Robbins prominently during its “brandcast” presentation for advertisers a year ago. And while many of the video makers who have tried launching “channels” on the site in the last year have struggled, Awesomeness has continued to generate a good buzz.

The channel has nearly 500,000 subscribers. Last month it said it had generated more than 80 million video views, and at the time was planning on a show slated to run on Nickelodeon itself.

DreamWorks, meanwhile, has been spending time talking about its ambitions to create its own cable channel and to expand its online presence. You could see Awesomeness and Robbins fitting nicely into those plans.

If the deal goes through, it will be one of several big media bets on YouTube. Late last year Time Warner put money into YouTube network Maker Studios; Bertelsmann followed with an investment in StyleHaul in March. And Comcast and the Chernin Group are set to announce an investment in Fullscreen, a combination video network and YouTube tools startup.

Here’s an example of what Awesomeness is up to:


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald