Acquisitions and investments by Netflix and Hearst demonstrate a growing trend toward integration across media outlets of all kinds.
GLOBAL–Diversification is becoming essential for media companies in today’s challenged market, with publishers, linear television companies and even streaming media services expanding beyond their core content areas.
Case in point is two major moves by Netflix and Hearst this week. Streaming media service Netflix acquired Millarworld–the comic book publishing house founded by Mark Millar, creator of characters and stories like Kick-Ass, “Old Man Logan” and Kingsman; while the publishing giant Hearst has led a $133 million funding round for Iflix, a subscription video on demand service for emerging markets.
First, Netflix and Millar will work together to bring Millarworld’s portfolio to life through a variety of films, series and kids’ show, which will be available to Netflix members worldwide. Millarworld will also create and publish new stories and character franchisse under the Netflix label.
The acquisition, the first ever by Netflix, also marks the company’s effort to work directly with creators as well as to acquire IP and ownership of stories featuring characters and interwoven fictional worlds.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
"As creator and re-inventor of some of the most memorable stories and characters in recent history, ranging from Marvel's The Avengers to Millarworld's Kick-Ass, Kingsman, Wanted and Reborn franchises, Mark is as close as you can get to a modern day Stan Lee," says Ted Sarandos, chief content officer, Netflix. "We can't wait to harness the creative power of Millarworld to Netflix and start a new era in global storytelling."
Meanwhile, in addition to Hearst, Iflix’s funding round also included new investments from Singapore-based EDBI and clients of DBS private bank as well as from current shareholders Evolution Media, Sky, Catcha Group, Liberty Global, Jungle Ventures and PLDT.
Iflix, which launched in May 2015, has seen significant growth in the past year across all segments of the business–expanding from four markets to 19 across Asia, the Middle East and Afica. The company has also built integrated distribution partnership with 27 telecommunications operations to bundle the Iflix service with customers’ mobile and data subscriptions.
Hearst is the world’s No. 84 largest licensor, according to License Global’s annual Top 150 Global Licensors report. Its major interests include ownership in television networks like A&E, History, Lifetime, ESPN, Vice and AwesomenessTV. Its top licensed properties in 2016 included Seventeen, Esquire, Car and Driver, Country Living, Metropolitan Home and Good Housekeeping, among others.