Disney Folds Maker Studios Into Media Arm as Courtney Holt Moves to New Role
Disney acquired Maker Studios in 2014 for $500 million.
A little more than two years after Disney acquired Maker Studios, the digital video producer is being folded into the content and media business under Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. As part of the change, Maker Studios' top executive is stepping down from his post.
Courtney Holt, who has run Maker since last December and has been with the company since 2011, will move to a new role as executive vp of media and strategy, reporting to chief strategy officer Kevin Mayer. He will now lead Disney's efforts around the monetization of its digital businesses.
Disney acquired Maker Studios in 2014 for $500 million, a price tag that could have ballooned to as much as $950 million if performance incentives were met. The final price tag instead came in at $675 million.
Maker, which continues to work with YouTube creators including PewDiePie, has lost a number of its top executives since the acquisition, including CEO Ynon Kreiz, who stepped away from his role in December last year. Maker Studios conducted a round of layoffs in July. The company at the time said that fewer than 30 employees were affected.
Initially, the company's executives reported into CFO Jay Rasulo. But in January this year, a few months after Rasulo left Disney, Maker was incorporated into DCPI. Now, with the departure of Holt, Maker is becoming a part of the digital content group run by Andrew Sugerman. That's the group that runs Disney's digital networks, Babble and social media. The move, according to a source, is designed to create a singular business focused on creating digital content aimed at millennials and to help Maker better leverage its access to Disney IP.
Maker is one of many companies first built on the back of YouTube, serving as advertising networks that packaged together video creators with large audiences on the streamer. But the economics of the multi-channel network business proved fraught. Some observers questioned Disney's price tag for Maker, given that the company did not own most of the content it sold advertising around, and in the years since the acquisition, Maker and other such businesses have increasingly focused on owning their own content through original productions and have eschewed the MCN label.