Disney to pay $500m for Maker Studios, say reports

Stateside reports claim The Walt Disney Company is in talks to buy YouTube channel operator Maker Studios for around US$500 million.

PewDiePieMaker, which is a founding partner of the upcoming MIP Digital Fronts, operates ultra-successful YouTube channels such as PewDiePie (left), currently the web video platform’s most subscribed net.

Overall, Maker claims to get 5.5 billion video views a month, mainly from YouTube. Its executive chairman is Ynon Kreiz, the former Endemol CEO.

Media blog Re/code first reported yesterday Disney is looking to make the operator its biggest bet on digital video, according to people familiar with the talks.

Time Warner is already an investor in Maker through its venture capital division, which lead a US$36 million funding round two years ago.

Numerous other traditional TV companies are circling YouTube channel operators, with Time Warner-owned Warner Bros. officially announcing a US$18 million investment in Machinima this week, and DreamWorks Animation paying an initial US$33 million to buy AwesomenessTV last year.

Read a full report on YouTube channels and original digital content producers in the upcoming April/May issue of TBI magazine