The European media company RTL has bought a controlling stake in StyleHaul, the biggest YouTube multi-channel network focused on fashion and beauty, for $107 million, with further “earn-out” potential that could further raise the total price, the two sides confirmed.
The deal has been strongly rumored for the past two weeks, and is the latest example of a U.S. or European media company buying part or all of a big YouTube network that aggregates hundreds or thousands of individual creators’ channels and sells advertising around those millions of audience members. Other media buyers so far include Disney (Maker Studios), DreamWorks Animation (AwesomenessTV and Big Frame), Warner Bros (Machinima), AT&T/Chernin Group (Fullscreen) and BSkyB (Whistle Sports).
Given the long relationship between the two sides, the acquisition is not a huge surprise. Bertelsman, RTL’s parent company, had previously been part of a 2013 funding round for StyleHaul. RTL subsidiary FremantleMedia also has an original-programming deal with StyleHaul.
Other early investors in the company have included Allen DeBevoise, the CEO of Machinima, and his brother Aaron, Juvo Capital and RezVen Partners.
Expect more such deals for “vertical” MCNs that are focused in a particular area, said Peter Csathy, President of Manatt Digital Media, a consulting firm. With major “horizontal” networks such as Maker, Awesomeness and Fullscreen all off the table, what’s left for media companies wanting a foot in the digital video world are the big verticals such as Stylehaul and Whistle Sports.
StyleHaul focuses on fashion and beauty, and aggregates more than 5,000 YouTube channels. Csathy said that what’s particularly notable about StyleHaul is that its video content functions not just as entertainment, or how-to instructional content for an audience overwhelmingly dominated by Millennial girls and women. Importantly from a revenue standpoint, the videos can become a pathway to e-commerce, selling the clothing, shoes and makeup being displayed in the videos.
Here’s what StyleHaul CEO Stephanie Horbacewski posted about the deal on her company blog:
StyleHaul Family –
Today is truly one of the most exciting days in the history of StyleHaul. I am thrilled to announce that we have officially become part of RTL Group – the leading European entertainment network – who has already been a big part of StyleHaul’s success over the past few years. I want to first say a huge THANK YOU to all of you, our creators, for producing the best content there is on YouTube and helping me realize my dreams as you realize your own. This note doesn’t even begin to cover the depth of gratitude and pride I have for each and every one of you for being part of our StyleHaul community – we adore you all!
I want to make sure that you all take comfort in knowing that the relationship that you have with StyleHaul will not change. Our address is the same. Your community manager is the same. You can still find us at the same Twitter and Instagram handles and of course on YouTube, Vine, Tumblr and SnapChat, everywhere you are, we are there too. We will continue to make you and your content our priority and we are so excited to go through this new journey with all of you, together, as a family.
I also want to sincerely thank the global staff of StyleHaul. Your energy, passion, creativity and dedication to StyleHaul keeps me motivated and inspired, every single day. Thank you for being committed to our success.
Can’t stop dancing and singing!
Love your biggest fan,