With DreamWorks Acquisition, Comcast Takes on Disney for Big Media Superiority

NBCU gets controlling stake in AwesomenessTV

When NBCUniversal announced this morning that it will acquire DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion, the deal was mostly hailed as a film play for NBCU's parent company, Comcast, as it seeks to challenge Disney's big media dominance.

Disney, which owns both Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm as well as broadcaster ABC, is also in the short-form, millennial-focused multichannel network space with Maker Studios.

Now NBCU will be, too.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year if regulators agree, DreamWorks Animation will separate its controlling interests in MCN AwesomenessTV and tech company Nova into a new group called DreamWorks New Media, which will be chaired by DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

"This agreement not only delivers significant value for our shareholders, but also supports NBCUniversal's growing family entertainment business," said Katzenberg in a statement. "As for my role, I am incredibly excited to continue exploring the potential of AwesomenessTV, NOVA and other new media opportunities, and can't wait to get started."

This deal also puts NBCU in business with Verizon and Hearst. Each owns a 24.5 percent stake in AwesomenessTV, which produces and distributes videos aimed at preteens and millennials. The new NBCU unit would have a controlling 51 percent stake.

The animation studio will be under NBCU's Universal Filmed Entertainment arm. It isn't yet certain where New Media will be placed within NBCU, though it is more aligned with NBC's TV properties. Earlier this month, Hulu, which is partly owned by NBCU, acquired the exclusive streaming rights to AwesomenessTV's horror series, Freakish.

Today's acquisition follows NBCU's digital-native investments in BuzzFeed and Vox Media last summer.

With NBCU's "All Together Everything" mantra, this could lead to AwesomenessTV's creators working with BuzzFeed, Vox and the NBC broadcast and cable channels and perhaps more advertising like its months-long campaign with Chrysler.