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Streamticker: The Biggest Streaming Mergers & Acquisitions of 2023

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When it comes to mergers and acquisitions in the streaming industry and M&E marketplace in 2023 and an accounting of the year’s most consequential deals, it makes the most sense to open at the close: Disney’s early-November announcement that it would fully subsume Hulu into its empire with a buyout that completed an acquisition initiated in pre-pandemic 2019.

Disney Takes Full Control of Hulu

By the end of the year, the much-trailed merger of Disney+ with Hulu had gone ahead, with Disney buying out Comcast’s 33% stake in the streamer for $8.6 billion. Disney has run Hulu since 2019 when Comcast ceded its authority to Disney and effectively became a silent partner.

disney hulu bundle

The Disney+-Hulu bundle is on track for super-app status.

Now it can go full steam ahead on combining the pair into a super-app to better compete with Max and Netflix in the U.S. Outside the U.S., Hulu programming has already been bundled with Disney+.

As part of its Q3 2023 earnings results, Disney announced it would release the new app in beta for bundle subscribers in December, with the official launch coming in spring 2024. “We remain on track to roll out a more unified one-app experience domestically, making extensive general entertainment content available to bundle subscribers via Disney+,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said during the earnings call. “We expect that Hulu and Disney+ will result in increased engagement, greater advertising opportunities, lower churn, and reduce customer acquisition costs.”

The single-app experience will be taken further, says Guy Bisson, executive director and co-founder of Ampere, “As Disney transitions to a full DTC model for ESPN, it will also launch a ‘full-Monty’ bundle of Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN—with ESPN also remaining standalone as an option.”

Via Licensing and MPEG LA Unite

In May, Via Licensing and MPEG LA combined to form the Via Licensing Alliance (Via LA) and establish the largest codec patent pool administrator in the industry. The merger creates a “pool of pools” for audio and video, consisting of near­ly 50,000 patents in 130-plus countries, with more than 500 patent holders and 10,000 licensees. Via LA is an independently managed subsidiary of Dolby Labs.

MPEG LA’s achievements included launching the licensing program for MPEG-2, which even nearly 30 years on is still being used to encode video. It also set up a pool related to the Versatile Video Coding (VVC) standard. A number of VVC patents are now under the authority of Via LA’s VVC Patent Portfolio Licence. Via Licensing dates back more than 20 years. Its major achievement was establishing the licensing pool for AAC.

The plan is to consolidate dozens of patent pools covering a broad range of technologies, with the aim of simplifying the licensing process. According to Heath Hoglund, Via LA’s president, “Via LA combines the best capabilities in the licensing industry to deliver efficient, transparent, and balanced intellectual property solutions to thousands of partners around the world.” Affiliates of General Electric, Philips, and Mitsubishi Electric will convert their partial ownership in MPEG LA to partial ownership in Via LA.

That’s what the press releases say. Of course, there’s a lot more to this story. The move may be intended to deal a knockout blow to rival pool Access Advance, of which General Electric, Dolby, Philips, and Mitsubishi Electric were founding members. In December 2023,
Access Advance touted that Amazon, Dell, and Lenovo PC joined its HEVC program. Access Advance also operates a VVC program, which Sony joined in December 2023. Any VVC licensee will almost certainly have to take out a license from both pools to avoid any infringement lawsuits.

HEVC Advance has arguably held the balance of power in the patent pool game after nine members of MPEG LA, including ETRI, the Korean Broadcasting System, and NTT DOCOMO, joined forces with it in 2020.

It may be that MPEG LA’s April 2023 settlement with Samsung—in a case that contested patent payments due to Samsung—paved the way for the merger. In addition, two other companies that left MPEG LA and contributed their patents to Access Advance’s HEVC Advance pool (ETRI and SK Telecom) are suing MPEG LA over the same issue in an action yet to be resolved at this writing.

Avid Goes Private

Avid, for decades the leading brand with the biggest userbase in postproduction, removed itself from Nasdaq in an all-cash acquisition by hedge fund Symphony Technology Group (STG). The deal, which valued the company at $1.4 billion, was announced in August and approved by Avid stockholders in November.

“By becoming a private company, we believe Avid will be able to achieve the speed of innovation, scale and performance required for us to continue leading the industry forward,” said Jeff Rosica, Avid’s CEO and president. “Combined with their significant operational and financial resources, STG brings deep investment experience in the technology sector that will accelerate the achievement of Avid’s strategic vision, building on the momentum of our successful ongoing transformation achieved over the past several years.” Rosica told The Hollywood Reporter he would retire in early 2024.

Avid was founded in 1987 and introduced Media Composer in 1989. In 1994, it acquired Digidesign, the maker of Pro Tools. The company also develops tools for broadcast, storage, and asset management. In September 2023, Avid introduced Ada, the brand for its AI-driven technology.

In its Q2 results released in August 2023, Avid grew revenue 11% to $108.5 million, but posted an overall loss of $4.6 million for the quarter. During all of 2022, subscription was the main driver of growth, with more than half a million paid subs to its software, representing $150 million in revenue for the year.

EditShare Merges With Shift Media

In September 2023, EditShare merged with fellow Boston-area company Shift Media and will move forward under the EditShare brand. EditShare products include EFS shared video storage solutions and FLOW media asset management software. In 2022, the company launched EditShare FLEX, a remote postproduction platform built on AWS. Shift Media’s SaaS solutions include the MediaSilo collaboration tool and industry screener platform Screeners.com.

EditShare EFS 450

EditShare’s EFS 450 shared storage

Ramu Potarazu, Shift Media’s CEO, now leads the combined company (EditShare CEO Conrad Clemson left the business). The complementary products will aim to better address the postproduction need to move from fixed facilities toward more flexible environments.

“Sometimes you need to be working in a full-service post house, but at other times that is just not necessary,” Potarazu tells TV Tech. “Neither the editor nor the client needs to commute into an expensive city-center location if remote working can deliver the same level of performance and functionality. That means that the tech platform supporting the workflows has to be more agile. Content will be stored on premises or in the cloud. Proxies will be generated automatically at the point of ingest. Secure connectivity will allow remote logins from anywhere in the world to access just the relevant content. Simple distribution of review copies for approval means that producers can see work in progress wherever they are. The answer to all these challenges is not to make the same old workflows work around additional connectivity: it is to find new, relevant ways of working that deliver productivity bonuses alongside the convenience.”

ParkerGale Capital and Marlin Equity Partners, previous backers of EditShare and Shift Media, respectively, will remain as primary investors and board members of the combined company.

Cisco Buys Splunk

Cisco purchased cybersecurity company Splunk in September 2023 for $157 per share in cash, representing approximately $28 billion in equity value. It was Cisco’s largest-ever acquisition. Splunk develops tools for security information and event management and for analyzing log files and other data. It also uses AI to help companies minimize the risk of cybersecurity incidents.

“In today’s hyperconnected world, data is everywhere, with every organization relying on it to run their business and make mission-critical decisions every day. Factoring in the acceleration and adoption of generative AI, expanding threat surfaces, and multiple cloud environments, it creates a level of complexity that is unlike anything organizations have faced. Organizations need a better way to manage, protect, and unlock data’s true value and stay digitally resilient,” Cisco said in a press release.

“Uniting with Cisco represents the next phase of Splunk’s growth journey, accelerating our mission to help organizations worldwide become more resilient, while delivering immediate and compelling value to our shareholders,” said Gary Steele, president and CEO of Splunk, who joined Cisco’s executive leadership team.

Evergent and Irdeto Partner in Amsterdam

Irdeto’s September 2023 deal was a straightforward partnership rather than an M&A, this time with Evergent, a digital business customer management firm. The pair said the partnership would enable OTT streaming providers to bring innovative, custom use cases to market, taking advantage of the rapidly growing demand for subscription-based services.

evergent irdeto

Evergent and Irdeto announced their partnership during IBC in September 2023.

According to research from Statista quoted by Evergent, the global market for OTT video is expected to grow over the next 5 years at a CAGR of 7.72%. “OTT streaming video providers must compete for their position in this growing market by offering unique, customer-friendly packages and experiences,” Evergent said.

Irdeto appealed to those pay TV operators seeking to combine broadcast with OTT, arguing they can use its cybersecurity solutions to rapidly deploy a hybrid (or pure OTT) service on an Android TV or RDK set-top box together with Evergent’s customer management tools. “No other solution offers the same breadth of functionality and ease of use. We look forward to developing this partnership and providing additional value to our customers in the months to come,” Irdeto CEO Doug Lowther said in a press release.

In November 2023, Evergent partnered with Axinom, developer of the Mosaic back-end video streaming platform. Evergent founder and CEO Vijay Sajja remarked in a press release, “Our new partnership with Axinom makes it significantly easier for OTT companies to find the right solution for their technology backend and monetization management needs. This partnership lowers the entry barriers for companies to build or modernize their OTT services while scaling their operations to new geographies and monetization models.”

Akamai Acquires Select Lumen Technologies CDN Contracts

In October 2023, Akamai acquired assets, including select CDN customer contracts, from Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink) for an undisclosed sum. Akamai anticipates the transaction will net it $40–$50 million in revenue in 2024. To put that in context, as Mary Lennighan does in a Telecoms article, Akamai made $3.62 billion in revenue in 2022, and Lumen Technologies made $17.5 billion. “This is clearly not a huge deal for either party, but it does reflect a time of change at both companies,” Lennighan notes.

This acquisition marks the end of Lumen’s content delivery services business. Meanwhile, Akamai is keen to build up its customer base. In August, it announced the acquisition of select enterprise customer contracts from StackPath, with the latter also exiting CDN operations. According to Lennighan, in that deal, Akamai picked up around 100 contracts worth $20 million in annual revenue. Just as in the Lumen Technologies acquisition, there was no transfer of tech or personnel.

Microsoft Acquires Activision Blizzard

Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard officially closed in October 2023, 21 months after it was first announced. This came after the U.K. regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), gave its approval to an amended version of the deal, which will see Microsoft give up cloud-streaming rights for all Activision Blizzard games outside the European Economic Area (EEA)—a region that comprises the 27 European Union members plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway—to French video game publisher Ubisoft for 15 years. The CMA blocked the initial deal over concerns that it could harm competition in cloud gaming in the U.K.

microsoft activision

Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard closed in October 2023, after the initial deal was blocked in the U.K. and amended.

Microsoft will now control games such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush. They will provide the firm with huge revenues, according to the BBC. Microsoft is hopeful the takeover will boost demand for its Xbox console and enable it to add more titles to Xbox Game Pass, its cloud-based subscription service.

After 15 years, Ubisoft will no longer hold the cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard content in the EEA. The CMA believes the time span will see rivals become established in the cloud gaming market and be more competitive.

The deal is Microsoft’s largest acquisition ever, in excess of the $26 billion it paid for LinkedIn in 2016. Microsoft is now the third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.

A report from MIDiA Research suggests that the gaming industry is expected to hit more than $300 billion in global revenue and reach around 3.8 billion active players by 2030.

Amagi Adds Tellyo

Amagi, which provides cloud broadcast and targeted advertising solutions, acquired Tellyo, the developer of a remote production platform. The deal, announced in November 2023 and preceded by a “strategic partnership,” is set to enhance Amagi’s video toolset for live sports and news broadcasts.


Amagi’s Tellyo acquisition brings cloud-based live production solution Stream Studio under its umbrella.

The move also expands the European presence of the India-based Amagi. In January 2023, Amagi set up a development center in Croatia, its first outside India. By bringing together Tellyo’s product development center in Poland and Amagi’s hubs in India and Croatia, Amagi expects to drive cloud innovation.

Baskar Subramanian, Amagi’s co-founder and CEO, said in a press release, “Tellyo brings a wealth of expertise, a strong team, and innovative products that align perfectly with our strategic vision of being a frontrunner in the cloud-based live broadcast technology space. Together, we will not only enrich Amagi’s product offerings, but also bring investments in the Eastern European region and create new possibilities for local talent and global customers.”

Tellyo’s main product is Stream Studio, which has been used by customers like Liberty Global, ESPN, and Sunset+Vine for producing live content streamed to digital and social media.

In late 2022, Amagi received more than $100 million in investment from equity firm General Atlantic, which valued the company at $1.4 billion. Amagi also has investment from Accel, Norwest Venture Partners, and Avataar Ventures. Amagi’s clients include ABS-CBN, A+E Networks UK, beIN Sports, Cinedigm, Fox Networks, Fremantle, and NBCUniversal.

Sony Buys iSIZE

In November 2023, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) acquired iSIZE, a London-based company specializing in using deep neural networks to enhance video delivery, signaling a potential shift from Sony toward cloud gaming. iSIZE developed video pre-processing software BitSave, which uses AI “to eliminate invisible detail,” resulting in “perceptually equivalent video quality at a significantly lower bitrate.” iSIZE’s CEO and founder is Sergio Grce, and Yiannis Andre­opoulos is CTO and co-founder.

Ueli Gallizzi, SVP of SIE’s Future Technology Group, wrote in a blog post, “The acquisition provides SIE with significant expertise in applying machine learning to video processing, which will benefit a range of our R&D efforts as well as our video and streaming services.”

Speculation that Sony will use iSIZE tech to boost efficiency of cloud gaming seems to stem from the acquisition coming from its interactive division. Sony has made no comment in this regard. The company nonetheless rolled out the ability for PlayStation 5 subscribers to stream games via the cloud in a move that seems motivated to counter Microsoft’s cloud gaming plans.

OTTera Buys Float Left

In October 2023, streaming white label specialist OTTera acquired Float Left from iMedia Brands, which in turn acquired the OTT user experience specialist only 4 years earlier.

OTTera is headquartered in Los Angeles and provides customized OTT applications, FAST channel development, and monetization solutions. The company said, “This strategic investment aligns with [our] commitment to leverage Float Left’s expertise, particularly in front-end development, to diversify services and strengthen [our] market position.” In October 2023, AMC Networks announced that it had teamed with OTTera to launch its first FAST channel in Spain.

Broadcom Closes VMware Deal

U.S. chipmaker Broadcom’s $69 billion buyout of Palo Alto, Calif.-based virtualization and cloud-computing software provider VMware was announced mid-2022 and closed in late November 2023 after securing China’s approval for the deal.

vmware by broadcom

Broadcom’s VMware acquisition finally closed in November 2023.

The acquisition, the biggest by far in Broadcom’s history, has raised eyebrows, with TechCrunch noting that the firm previously spent more than $18 billion in 2018 to buy legacy enterprise software company CA Technologies and another $11 billion in 2019 for Symantec’s legacy security business.

Forrester, a global IT market researcher, predicts that many VMware customers are on the verge of leaving, citing delays in the merger and recent price hikes. In its predictions for 2024, Forrester says VMware’s acquisition has “cast a shadow on an already beleaguered VMware customer base.” It adds that many of VMware’s enterprise clients are exploring alternatives to its virtualization, cloud management, end-user computing, and hyperconverged infrastructure products despite the firm’s dominance in these technologies.

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