Beverly Hills-based Genius Brands International is acquiring animation producer Wow! Unlimited Media for around USD$53 million (in cash and stock), marking its expansion into Canada.
Here are the details:
- Genius’s portfolio of shows includes Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten, Rainbow Rangers, Llama Llama, and the forthcoming Shaq’s Garage. It also owns curated kids’ streaming platform Kartoon Channel.
- Wow! Houses two animation studios, Mainframe Studios (in Vancouver and Toronto) and Frederator Studios (in Burbank). They have worked on shows including Madagascar: A Little Wild, Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures, Spy Kids: Mission Critical, Castlevania, Adventure Time, and The Fairly Oddparents.
- Wow! also owns Frederator Networks, known for its network of thousands of Youtube animation channels, which rack up over one billion views per month. Like its namesake studio, it was founded by veteran animation executive Fred Seibert.
- By acquiring Wow!, Genius will access Canadian tax credits. This will allow it to “transfer its current animation production at great savings from China” to the Wow!-owned studios.
- The company will monetize in-house Wow! brands, including through licensing, and distribute some of its content on Kartoon Channel. It will use Frederator’s Youtube channels to expand its audience to teens and young adults.
- Wow! CEO Michael Hirsh will continue to oversee Mainframe, Frederator Studios, Networks and Platforms. He will join Genius’s board of directors.
- Genius chairman and CEO Andy Heyward said in a statement:
The acquisition of Wow! substantially accelerates the financial growth of Genius Brands, delivering on our promise to shareholders to execute meaningful and accretive acquisitions, as we seek to rapidly consolidate the marketplace and become the foremost producer, broadcaster, and consumer product licensor of high-quality children’s entertainment in the world.
Image at top: Wow! produced “Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures” (left) through Mainframe, and “Bee and Puppycat” (r) through Frederator Studios.