On Tuesday, March 25, Disney announced its $500 million purchase of video producer Maker Studios, which operates exclusively through video channels on YouTube.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Disney’s purchase marks the media giant’s latest foray into the hotbed of web video production as a means of accessing a young audience that chooses digital media over traditional outlets like television.
Kevin Mayer, Disney’s executive vice president of corporate strategy, said he hopes the purchase will help Disney reach out to this younger, tech-oriented generation.
“They have the biggest audience on YouTube. It’s very hard to replicate,” he said. “To the extent that they’re finding YouTube, we want to be there too. We don’t want to have any vacuums.”
Mayer also said Disney hopes to tap into Maker’s resources to find new talent for its TV shows and movies as well as original content ideas, according to ABC News.
Maker Studios, one of YouTube’s most successful “multichannel networks,” currently has 55,000 YouTube channels, 380 million subscribers and 5.5 billion video views each month. While this purchase greatly expands Disney’s online holdings, the company’s previous acquisitions in this realm have seen mixed results.
“It’s a very smart move, and an easy buy,” explains Bryan Bolan, Founder and Creative Director at b-Mc Creative. “They’re capturing a market that is exactly what they’re after. Instead of building from scratch, they found something that fits their needs perfectly.”
In 2010, Disney bought the social gaming company Playdom Inc. for $563 million — however, the social gaming sector fizzled out soon after, and several other video game production studios Disney bought have shut down, according to The Wall Street Journal.
However, YouTube continues to be one of the biggest success stories of the web. About 500 years’ worth of YouTube videos are watched daily through Facebook alone. YouTube is a free, easily accessible outlet for anyone with creativity and drive, and many users are making six-figure salaries just by uploading video content to the site. YouTube’s dominance of web video production continues to grow more than ever.
As more media companies turn their interests toward online content and web video production, it’s clear the ways in which we consume media will continue to evolve.