One thing a lot of people didn’t see coming in 2018 (or at least something I didn’t anticipate) was all the investments traditional media companies made into the social video ecosystem. We saw Viacom, ATT, and Ziff Davis (to name a few) make major investments and virtually overnight become serious players this past year.
One traditional media company in particular stands out – Viacom. Viacom has a long, storied history with the space; they’d been suing Google over alleged copyright violations on YouTube from 2007-2014. As part of that suit Viacom had been seeking $1 billion dollars in damages, but was awarded no money as part of a settlement in 2014.
Now, four years later, Viacom seems to have done a 180 and fully embraces the digital video space (and YouTube in particular).
In the case of Viacom – waiting to make serious investments in the social video ecosystem seems to have allowed them to scoop up some serious deals.
Viacom acquired AwesomenessTV for a reported $50 million, a fraction of the company’s $650 million valuation back in 2016. This comes on the heels of Viacom having bought VidCon, the largest digital video conference/major influencer gathering.
And, at the very start of the year it was announced that Viacom had acquired WhoSay an influencer-marketing company that had raised $30 million and was incubated by CAA.
With these three acquisitions Viacom turned itself into a major player in the digital video ecosystem virtually overnight. They’ve got experiential, content, and marketing.
With VidCon they have the largest YouTube gathering. With Awesomeness they’ve got one of the largest MCN’s and production companies focused on the space, and with WhoSay they’ve got an established influencer marketing arm.
The timing of all this is interesting – YouTube is well over ten years old now, but I supposed it just goes to show that sometimes patience is a virtue.
It’s often easy to criticize the old guard for being slow, and lacking innovation (its something I’ve done constantly), but oftentimes methodical and deliberate can be mistaken for slow and out of touch.acquisition att AwesomenessTV chernin viacom whosay