Disney Digital Network
|Maker Studios Inc. (2009–2017)|
2009 (as Maker Studios Inc.)|
May 2, 2017 (as Disney Digital Network)
Rawn Erickson II
|Headquarters||Culver City, California, U.S.|
Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International|
(The Walt Disney Company)
Disney Digital Network (formerly Maker Studios, Inc.) is an American multi-channel network. The original Maker Studios was co-founded by Lisa Donovan, Danny Zappin, Scott Katz, Kassem G, Shay Carl, Rawn Erickson II, Ben Donovan, and Philip DeFranco. Shane Dawson was also involved with Lisa Donovan and Shay Carl during their collaboration on The Station.
Outside the US, Maker has significant audiences in the UK, Brazil and Australia, and aims to expand its Asian operations, where it currently has 700 million monthly unique views. Run by Rene Rechtman, President for International, Maker is building a headquarters in London for its commercial, production and marketing activities outside the US. An Asian hub has been established in Singapore, offering limited commercial and marketing support until the business is larger.
In December 2015, Maker became a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Since becoming a subsidiary, the company has suffered multiple rounds of layoffs, executive shuffling, and partners cut-offs.
On May 2, 2017, Disney absorbed the studio into the newly formed Disney Digital Network.
As Maker Studios (until 2017)
In June 2012, Maker Studios announced that over 1,000 channels signed under the network have received and accumulated over 1.1 billion views for the month of June 2012. YouTube channels under Maker Studios have also collectively earned over 90 million subscribers. In October 2012, Maker Studios surpassed Machinima to become the number one independent YouTube network. However, since that time, according to comScore, in December 2012, Fullscreen passed Maker to become the top ranked YouTube-based network. In December 2012, shortly after the Ray William Johnson controversy, Maker announced that it had closed a $36 million round of financing led by Time Warner Investments. The most popular Maker production is Epic Rap Battles of History, which averages 30 million views an episode. Maker's most successful channel was PewDiePie, the most subscribed user on YouTube, who signed under the Maker sub-network Polaris and later RevelMode until February 13, 2017, when Maker dropped him as a result of jokes that were perceived to be anti-semitic.
On March 24, 2014, Maker Studios, Inc. agreed to sell itself to The Walt Disney Company for $500 million, rising to $950 million if financial milestones were met. On April 14, 2014, Relativity Media submitted a competing bid of up to $1.1 billion, but Maker denied the bid. In December 2015, the company became a subsidiary of Disney Consumer Products and the Disney Interactive division of The Walt Disney Company. The Network also partnered with Fusion TV in a deal that falls under the corporate umbrella of Mouse House.
As Disney Digital Network (2017–present)
In February 2017, Maker Studios had around 60,000 YouTube partnerships, but announced that it intends to reduce this to about 1,000. Many partnered YouTubers had been unhappy with the terms of their contracts, including difficulty with ending contracts. On May 2, 2017, Disney absorbed the studio into the newly formed Disney Digital Network.
On January 19, 2018, Twitch signed a deal with Disney to secure exclusive content from some of the entertainment giant's top YouTubers, including Markiplier and Jacksepticeye. A total of four YouTubers (with a combined total of over 44 million subscribers), are involved in the deal, and each will manage their own channels on Twitch.
Courtney Holt was the chief strategy officer of Maker Studios. Due to Danny Zappin stepping down as the company's CEO, Ynon Kreiz, former CEO and Chairman of Endemol became the CEO of Maker Studios in May 2013. Prior to Kreiz becoming the CEO of Maker, he was the company's chairman. Ryan Lissack is the current CTO of Maker Studios. In December 2015, Courtney Holt replaced Ynon Kreiz as CEO, coming a year after Disney's acquisition of the group.
Maker Studios produced videos for channels on YouTube, including Consider the Source, Tessa Violet, Yves Bole, KassemG, Timothy DeLaGhetto, Peter Shukoff and Lloyd Ahlquist's Epic Rap Battles of History, KingManProds, Sam Macaroni, along with several others that have almost as many viewers as Nickelodeon. Maker's first three channels produced for YouTube included Maker Music Network, Tutele, and The Mom's View, with both Maker Music Network and Tutele channels shutting down within six months of their launch. Maker Studios have also signed celebrities such as famous rapper Snoop Dogg and his YouTube channel WestFestTV, actor Robert De Niro's Tribeca Enterprises, and Kevin Smith. PewDiePie was also signed under the Maker sub-network Polaris, until Maker dropped him due to anti-semitic jokes made on his channel.
Maker Studios formerly produced Ray William Johnson's Equals Three and Your Favorite Martian. In October 2012, Johnson announced he would be leaving Maker Studios in an episode of Equals Three. Johnson had also formed his own production studio, Runaway Machine (formerly Runaway Planet). Johnson has stated online that he left Maker Studios due to the pressure the company put on him into signing a contract which gave Maker a 40% share of his channel's AdSense revenue and 50% of his show's intellectual property rights. Johnson stated that they were using "thuggish tactics" to pressure him into signing the contract, one of which was allegedly leveraging his AdSense account for the intellectual property rights to YourFavoriteMartian. He also claimed that Maker Studios CEO, Danny Zappin, is a convicted felon, which he was not made aware of, when teaming up with Maker Studios. Zappin later publicly admitted to this claim.
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- "Report: Disney's Maker Studios cutting support for more than 55,000 YouTubers". Polygon. February 23, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
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- Barnes, Brooks (March 24, 2014). "Disney Buys Maker Studios, Video Supplier for YouTube". New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
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- Spangler, Todd (October 13, 2014). "Disney's Maker Studios Teams with Disney-Backed Fusion to Produce Block of TV Programming". Variety. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
- Cecilia D'Anastasio (March 1, 2017). "Some YouTubers are overjoyed that Maker Studios is firing them". Kotaku. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
- Glenn Peoples (October 31, 2011). "Courtney Holt, Former MySpace Music President, Named CEO of Maker Studios, Maximillian DeStefano, stock marketer for maker". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
- Peter Kafka (May 7, 2013). "Maker Studios CEO Danny Zappin Steps Down, Replaced by Endemol Vet Ynon Kreiz". All Things D. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- Daniel Miller (June 26, 2012). "Ynon Kreiz Joins Maker Studios as Chairman (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
- Michael Carney (April 10, 2012). "Maker Studios Hires Former Salesforce Exec Ryan Lissack as CTO". Pando Daily. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
- Chaz Kangas (March 1, 2012). "Maker Studios Is Flush With YouTube Cash". LA Weekly. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
- Mike Shields (February 15, 2012). "YouTube Natives Topping Big Names Early on Mom, science channels off to solid starts; eggheads, Demand Media struggle". Adweek. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
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- Drew Baldwin (June 29, 2012). "Maker Studios CEO Danny Zappin on Signing Snoop Dogg". Tubefilter. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
- Daniel Frankel (June 29, 2012). "Maker Studios fires up Snoop Dogg partnership". Paidcontent. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
- Joshua Cohen (May 2, 2012). "Robet De Niro's Tribeca Enterprises Partners with Maker Studios on YouTube Channel". Tubefilter. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- Joshua Cohen (January 14, 2013). "Kevin Smith Signs with Maker Studios". Tubefilter. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- Graser, Marc (January 8, 2013). "Maker Studios Hits Reset on The Game Station, Renames it Polaris". Variety. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
- World's Greatest Ninja!! – Ray William Johnson (YouTube). Equals Three. Ray William Johnson. October 16, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- Logan Rapp (December 11, 2012). "Maker Studios And Ray William Johnson Battle". SourceFed News. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- Sam Gutelle (December 11, 2012). "Maker and Ray William Johnson Still Feuding As Backstory Is Revealed". Tubefilter. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
- Sam Gutelle (November 27, 2012). "RayWilliamJohnson Starting His Own Studio With Help From Julian Smith". Tubefilter. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- Ray William Johnson (December 11, 2012). "RAY WILLIAM JOHNSON: Why I Left Maker Studios". New Media Rockstars. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
- Editorial Staff (December 11, 2012). "BREAKING: Maker Studios CEO Sends Company-Wide Letter Addressing Ray William Johnson Allegations". New Media Rockstars. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Joshua Cohen (December 12, 2012). "Maker Studios CEO Sends Letter to Employees, Addresses Past and Ray William Johnson". TubeFilter. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
- Tessa Stuart (January 10, 2013). "YouTube Stars Fight Back". LA Weekly. Retrieved January 14, 2013.