Viacom announces it's buying Awesomeness

Key Points
  • Viacom announced it's buying Awesomeness for a price well under $300 million
  • Awesomeness was owned by NBCUniversal, Verizon, and Hearst.
  • Awesomeness CEO Jordan Levin will leave the company after a transition period.
Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.
Todd Williamson | Getty Images

Viacom announced its deal to acquire Awesomeness on Friday for a price well under $300 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

That's significantly lower than the $650 million valuation that the company reportedly commanded when Verizon invested in 2016. The Hollywood Reporter reported the price to be $25 million plus debt. Viacom declined to comment on price, and financial terms weren't disclosed.

"With a network of more than 158 million subscribers, the addition of Awesomeness will strengthen Viacom's dominance among coveted youth audiences and accelerate the company's push to produce original premium digital programming," Viacom said in a statement.

Awesomeness — which has been a joint venture of NBCUniversal's DreamWorks Animation, Hearst and Verizon — had its start as a YouTube channel focused on content for millennials and teens. Co-founder Brain Robbins has since left the company and joined Viacom family as an executive at Paramount, while Kelly Day, a former senior exec at Awesomeness, heads digital for Viacom.

Awesomeness expanded to becoming a multi-channel network, managing tens of thousands of channels before expanding into more traditional media. After DreamWorks acquired AwesomenessTV in 2013, it launched several co-initiatives including YouTube children's channel DreamWorksTV, as well as a music label and publishing unit.

Awesomeness CEO Jordan Levin will depart the company after a post-acquisition transition period, Viacom said in the statement.

Verizon and Hearst each acquired around a quarter of the company in 2016. Sources familiar with the matter said the joint ownership structure of the company was not working because of conflicting priorities.

--Additional reporting by Michelle Castillo.

Disclosure: Comcast owns CNBC parent company NBCUniversal.