Disney buys Maker Studios YouTube network for $500 million

Remember when we talked about how there really is money in YouTube? How (semi-annoying) Swedish gamer PewDiePie makes up to $43,000 a day from ads on his videos? Well here’s another indicator that there’s money to be made in short-form online video.

Re/code broke the news that Disney has bought the YouTube network Maker Studios for at least $500 million, according to several reputable sources, and could pay as much as $950 million “should Maker hit an unannounced set of performance milestones after the acquisition.”

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Maker Studios owns 55,000+ channels, received 5.5 billion monthly views, and represents content creators in most of the world’s countries.

Disney does have about 70 YouTube channels, but a representative said it mostly sees those channels as promotion vehicles for its content. With Maker Studios on board, Disney will look to target a younger audience while creating original content. Kevin Maher,  Disney’s executive vice president of corporate development, told TechCrunch that Maker was the right partner for this shift, not just because of the size of its audience, but also the quality of its executive team.

There are several reasons why a YouTuber would want to sign for a network. Firstly there’s the obvious reasons, like talent management, accounting services, etc. Secondly, big companies with a large portfolio of earning YouTube channels under their name can allegedly negotiate for Google to take a smaller cut of the ad revenue (estimates say it’s currently around 45%). Thirdly, the marketing team at companies like Maker can help package content in a way that appeals to different demographics, growing channel numbers quickly.

What we’re curious to see now is what Disney will do with those channels. Will it move them to Television? To mobile apps? Whatever they do, we can’t imaging they’ll be content with YouTube taking as big a share of advertising revenue as it does. The names they’ve brought on board with this acquisition are big enough for them to migrate this content to their own platform fairly easily.

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