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AwesomenessTV Celebrates 1 Year With DreamWorks

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Multichannel networks (MCNs) are getting gobbled up like s’mores around a campfire. MCNs are the broadcast networks of the online video world: They help video creators with ad revenue and promotion, and, of course, take a share of the profits. Seeing that online video is only going to get more important to the entertainment ecosystem --  and seeing that it’s easier to buy than build -- major studios have been opening their wallets, adding an online wing to their enterprises in one step.

While there’s been a lot of ink on the deals themselves, not much has been written about what comes next. Does corporate synergy help the online property? Do the movie studio owners demand changes?

One year ago, during YouTube’s Brandcast event in New York, DreamWorks announced that it was purchasing AwesomenessTV for $33 million. Since Awesomeness is targeted at early teen viewers, it seemed like a strong fit. During a press conference after the event, Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks, said he would let the management keep operating as it has, but that there might be collaborations with DreamWorks properties in the future.

In April of this year, AwesomenessTV itself went shopping for an MCN, buying Big Frame for $15 million.

To find out how the year has gone, we spoke with Brett Bouttier, chief operating officer at AwesomenessTV.

Streaming Media: Walk us through what took place a year ago.

Brett Bouttier: A year ago, DreamWorks purchased the company, and that was a very exciting announcement for us on a number of levels because it was a great matchup with an incredible company with a rich history of storytelling and brand building and, I think, a very similar cultural DNA in that both our company -- as young as it is -- and DreamWorks -- which is now having its 20th anniversary -- are all about talent and creators and building franchises.

Streaming Media: Why was this a smart move for DreamWorks?

Brett Bouttier: Jeffrey Katzenberg and his management team there looked to Awesomeness as a really great addition to their portfolio as a family entertainment business because we accelerated their footprint across digital. The business of DreamWorks primarily had been theatrical distribution, and in the last couple of years they had been pushing hard to diversify into all media, building out their consumer products footprint and building out their location base entertainment footprint and looking at how you could extend the brand across networks. Awesomeness was a great fit for that because we reach a great audience.

Streaming Media: Are the two companies collaborating on any projects?

Brett Bouttier: Over the course of the past year, we’ve developed things and started to develop things together which culminated in an announcement last week that we were launching DreamWorks TV, which is sort of a more family-focused version of AwesomenessTV, but leveraging off of the success of what we’ve done with AwesomenessTV and the brand and characters and franchises of DreamWorks.

Runaways is one of AwesomenessTV’s most successful series, averaging more than 100,000 views per episode.

Streaming Media: You were at AwesomenessTV a year before the acquisition, and now it’s been a year since. What have you seen take place?

Brett Bouttier: We’re growing leaps and bounds, and DreamWorks is helping us get there even faster and encouraging us to do more and do it bigger and better. The company runs almost independently because we have maintained that sort of startup and singular focus that we set out with pre-transaction -- but now, with the backing and boldness and additional firepower of having folks like Jeffrey and the resources of DreamWorks to propel us even faster. For example, one of the things we’re doing now is launching a consumer products business that’s dedicated to Awesomeness. We’re really leveraging the intelligence and resources and talent inside DreamWorks to do that in a way that’s probably 10 or 20 or 30 times bigger than we would if we were an independent stand-alone company.

Streaming Media: How is DreamWorks helping out?

Brett Bouttier: They’ve got a giant consumer products team doing licensing deals and creating new IP and book deals. We hired a guy, Jim Fielding, who joined our team just a couple of weeks ago as worldwide head of consumer products. He was CEO of Claire’s and before that, the president of Disney Stores. Just an unbelievably experienced, talented guy who sees the potential of what we’re doing with Awesomeness, how we’re reaching this audience, how influencers play a huge role in driving purchasing decisions within this demo, how the demo drives purchasing decisions in the household, and how we can become a player in that, not just as a marketing partner to retailers and other companies, but actually make product ourselves and sell it both under the Awesomeness brand and for our talent that are under our umbrella.

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