Peter Chernin Buys Stake in U.K Online Video Firm Base79

Peter Chernin Headshot

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The former News Corp. executive's Chernin Group is investing $10 million into the firm that says it is YouTube's largest original programming partner in Europe.

LONDON - Peter Chernin is betting on continuing upside from YouTube’s original content push, with his Chernin Group taking a nearly 30 percent stake in British online video company Base79.

The company, which has offices in London, New York and Sydney, says it is the largest YouTube network in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. It has partnered with more than 300 content producers and rights holders, including the likes of Simon Cowell’s SyCo, BBC Worldwide, Guinness World Records and Endemol’s Tiger Aspect arm. The firm says it is involved in 550 YouTube channels that draw 550 million monthly views.

Base79 was one of the recipients of YouTube’s first original programming grants to European companies a few weeks ago, making its YouTube's largest original programming partner in Europe.

The Financial Times put the size of the investment from former News Corp. president Chernin at $10 million, which will buy him a 28 percent stake. Existing investor MMC Ventures also participated in the latest funding round.

Base79 was founded in 2007 by Ashley MacKenzie, the son of a former editor of U.K. tabloid The Sun, which is part of News Corp.

"Proceeds from the round will be used to accelerate Base79’s expansion across Europe and into other global territories, to build owned-and-operated brands and channels, and to invest in the company’s products and technology," the firm said. Base79 said it plans to increase its presence in continental Europe over the next year.

Base79 partners with video rights holders and producers "to build online audiences and brands, claim and protect their intellectual property, sell premium advertising, and generate new revenue streams on YouTube and other over-the-top platforms," the company says on its web site. "The company’s proprietary technology and processes for increasing YouTube channel subscribers and views, and establishing ad sales leadership, enables its clients to significantly increase their reach and revenues in online video."

Said Chernin: “Base79 has established itself as one of the clear leaders in online video, an exciting space that we believe is positioned to grow faster than any other area of media. Base79 is one of Europe’s fastest-growing young media companies, and we look forward to partnering with the company and its management team to help build on its vision and capitalize on further opportunities for growth.”

“The Chernin Group’s industry leading expertise and track record in content, digital media, brand building, international expansion and monetization will be invaluable as we accelerate the company’s international growth and distribution of premium video content across multiple platforms and devices,” said MacKenzie, founder and CEO of Base79. “We have experienced extraordinary growth and believe this partnership will allow a new chapter of even greater opportunity.”

Alex Carloss, YouTube’s global head of entertainment, said: "We view The Chernin Group's investment in a key partner like Base79 as a sign of the growth of the YouTube eco-system in Europe. Base79's deep expertise in rights management and the YouTube platform will continue to help partners control and grow their content businesses on YouTube."


Twitter: @georgszalai