YouTube network Fullscreen appears to be the next item on shopping list created earlier this year when AT&T (NYSE: T) budgeted former Fox mogul Peter Chernin $500 million to assemble a collection of online-video assets.
And unlike the relatively inexpensive how-to craft network, Creativebug, the joint venture acquired two weeks ago, this purchase could use up a big chunk of what's currently in the wallet: According to Re/code, which first reported the near-deal, AT&T and the Chernin Group are closing in an agreement that would value Fullscreen at between $200 million and $300 million.
Representatives for Fullscreen, as well as the AT&T/Chernin Group joint venture named Otter Media, have not confirmed the negotiations.
Chernin is already an investor in Fullscreen, having earlier joined Comcast to put $30 million into the Culver City, Calif.-based multichannel network (MCN). Fullscreen has become a hot commodity in the wake of DreamWorks Animation's $33 million purchase of AwesomenessTV in 2013, and Disney's mega-deal for Maker Studios earlier this year. Disney put down $500 million to acquire Maker, but could end up paying as much as $950 million in total if all performance benchmarks are met.
According to the latest comScore rankings for ad-supported online video, Fullscreen drew an audience of 32.9 million unique viewers for June, just behind the 37.4 million garnered by Maker.
It has been speculated that Chernin was brought in with AT&T's proposed purchase of DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) in mind. As it seeks to make DirecTV a central component to a programming service that leverages wireless mobile devices, the theory is that it will be Chernin, who is well-connected in Hollywood--and not so much DirecTV--who liaisons the content relationships.
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