Walt Disney Co. is said to be in talks to acquire YouTube network Maker Studios for $500 million, a price that could rise to as much as $900 million if certain performance benchmarks are met, according to reports on tech website Re/code and the Financial Times.
Maker, a “multi-channel network,” develops online video programming for a variety of YouTube channels and other social media outlets to help entertainers reach a larger audience. It is home to YouTube entertainers PewDiePie, said to be the biggest star on YouTube, and KassemG. The company said it has more than 4.5 billion monthly views and 340 million subscribers to its channels.
A Maker spokeswoman did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
The West L.A. network has raised $66 million in Venture funding to date according to Crunchbase, including a $36 million investment by Time Warner in 2012.
If the deal goes through it would be the latest in a series of investments in local YouTube networks by major media companies the past two years.
Warner Bros. led an $18 million investment in Machinima in a deal announced Monday, DreamWorks Animation acquired teenage-centric network AwesomenessTV last spring for $33 million – a figure that could rise to $117 million if certain benchmarks are met, and Culver City’s Fullscreen has backing from Comcast.