Verizon just bought a big stake in a $650 million video company popular with teens

Dance camp youtubeYouTubeAwesomenessTV’s ‘Dance Camp.’

Verizon has made another big move to grab teen eyeballs by agreeing to buy a 24.5% share in AwesomenessTV, the video powerhouse valued at $650 million.

AwesomenessTV was acquired by Dreamworks in 2013, who will remain the majority stakeholder, owning about 51%. Hearst owns 24.5% of the company as well.

What is AwesomenessTV? The video content company first got its start on YouTube, where its main channel has 3.6 million subscribers, but its content now appears in various forms across platforms like YouTube Red, Netflix, and Verizon’s Go90 service.

If you haven’t heard of it, that might be because the content is decidedly tween-focused.

“AwesomenessTV has demonstrated an ability to zero in on programming that Gen Z and millennials want to watch,” Marni Walden, an EVP at Verizon told The Wall Street Journal.

Here’s a sample scene from “Dance Camp,” a movie the company created for YouTube’s new premium service:

Two people are dancing. Then someone says something like “trust me.” Then they kiss. “That was … awesome.” They giggle. Shawn Mendes’ “Stitches” plays.

But that seems to be exactly what Verizon wants. It has jumped headfirst into its new video app, Go90, which is aimed at capturing a younger market, and is releasing dozens of shows.

Business Insider’s Jason Guerrasio interviewed the man behind Go90, Brian Angiolet, who explains Verizon’s strategy like this: “The company aims to create a one-stop destination for sports, news, and original entertainment series, all as fast-paced as the attention spans of a busy millennial.”

As part of this new deal, Verizon and AwesomenessTV plan to create more content for the free, ad-supported Go90, as well as launch some form of premium video service. This premium tier is slated to launch near the end of 2016 or in early 2017, AwesomenessTV CEO Brian Robbins told Re/code’s Peter Kafka. “The next evolution in short-form video is super-premium video, on par with cable networks like HBO,” Robbins said.

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