Indicating the growing power of YouTube as a content creator, Disney has agreed to buy the Maker Studios network on YouTube for US$500m.
The deal is part of Disney’s growing demand to move and distribute more of its content online and it is understood, according to Reuters, that the deal could reach as high as US$950m if certain performances by Maker Studios are met.
According to Disney’s statement on the acquisition, by acquiring the studio, Disney will "gain advanced technology and business intelligence capability regarding consumers’ discovery and interaction with short-form online videos, including Disney content."
Maker Studios is one of the largest networks on the video-sharing website by a considerable margin, with 55,000 channels, 380m subscribers and 5.5bn views per month.
Robert A Iger, chairman and CEO of Disney, said, "Short-form online video is growing at an astonishing pace and with Maker Studios, Disney will now be at the centre of this dynamic industry with an unmatched combination of advanced technology and programming expertise and capabilities."
The move is similar to one of Disney’s main rivals, Warner Bros, having invested US$18m earlier this month in similar original YouTube network Machinima, a partner group for YouTube gaming personalities that had been making considerable losses and was losing viewer numbers at an alarming rate.