WPP, Comcast Invest in YouTube Network Fullscreen

Company plans to invest in original content, global expansion

Word had leaked recently that the YouTube multi channel network Fullscreen was set to receive a cash infusion from Comcast and former News Corp. chairman Peter Chernin, in the neighborhood of $30 million per Allthingsd.com. Turns out, agency holding company WPP is joining the party.

Fullscreen, which helps market, program and sell ads for over 10,000 YouTube creators, will formally announce today that it has taken on an undisclosed funding round. The plan, according to CEO George Strompolos, is to pour some of that investment into original content that Fullscreen would own and operate, while also investing in the company’s tech and software to facilitate international expansion.

Per Strompolos, Fullscreen already employs 160 people. Collectively its partners generate 2-3 billion views a month on YouTube.

Fullscreen helps these partners monetize their YouTube audiences, while also handling everything from talent management to design to post production. “We really do think we’re building a global media company on the Internet,” he said. “Think of us as the Viacom of future built on software.”

There are several big YouTube MCNs competing for that title, including Maker Studios, which has also received funding from traditional media investors (including Time Warner) as well as Base79 and Machinima. Strompolos boasted that Fullscreen’s network is the largest, and “one thing that really differentiates us is that we’re profitable,” he said. “This funding is not to keep the lights on. We’re invest in an opportunity to build a big media company.”

One with its own IP. That’s crucial for any YouTube network’s long term survival, Strompolos argued.  “It’s good to not depend on any single talent. We do have stars. And we want that to continue. But owning some of our own channels will allow us to experiment more freely.”

Among Fullscreen’s bigger stars are Devin Super Tramp, who boasts of 1.2 million YouTube subscribers, and violinist Lindsey Stirling, who performed memorably at YouTube’s NewFront last month.

The Fullscreen investment is an interesting one for WPP, but not out of character. The holding company has made early bets in the media and tech space before, including investments in Buddy Media and Vice.