Everyday Health will acquire EQAL, the production company behind some of YouTube's earliest scripted hits -- Lonelygirl15 and Kate Modern -- as it looks to expand into new genres.
EQAL founders Miles Beckett and Greg Goodfried and 80 employees will join Everyday Health in the deal. Neither company would discuss the terms, but TechCrunch caught wind of it last week and pegged the price at $15 million plus a $5 million earn-out.
It's the latest production company to change hands as media companies look to bring on expertise in different genres on YouTube, as well as building and managing an audience there.
One of the biggest, Revision3, was acquired by Discovery Communications in May. In June, Alloy Digital acquired Clevver Media, which operates several popular channels. Alloy acquired Generate in January and B5 Media in April.
With Lonelygirl15, EQAL brought a world of scripted programming to YouTube in 2006 and pioneered the kind of social marketing and community-building widely used by producers today. While EQAL never had another hit of that scale, it applied its learnings to new business such as branded content, social media marketing and building communities for celebrities.
Its content offering includes more than 40 media properties, such as JenniferLopez.com, Kraft's RealWomenofPhiladelphia.com, WalkWithWalgreens.com, and LaurenConrad.com.
"EQAL are experts at providing value around brand communities and celebrities," said Ben Wolin, CEO and co-founder of Everyday Health. The company is looking to expand its lifestyle brands, he said, and he believes that the skills and talent of EQAL combined with Everyday Health's own 38 million-viewer reach can make it a one-stop shop for lifestyle marketers.
While Everyday Health has acquired several companies, like MedPage Today, Mr. Wolin said this is the first lifestyle acquisition for the company. EQAL will remain headquartered in Los Angeles and will be incorporated into the Everyday Health's lifestyle division.
In addition to buying EQAL, Everyday Health is expanding beyond YouTube. The company is launching a spin-off of its YouTube channel for ABC Stations, "Recipe Rehab."
But this deal will create an opportunity for cross promotion between the TV series and the Everyday Health channel, which came in at No. 24 on Ad Age 's YouTube Original Channel Tracker last week. The eight-minute show will be expanded to 30 minutes for TV chefs Daniel Boome, Laura Vitale and Mareya Ibrahim, who will appear on the web show and on TV. Mr. Boome will now play host and a number of new chefs, including Calvin Harris, Candice Kumai and Tana Amen, will throw their hats in the ring.
The show pits two chefs against each other as they work to make a family's favorite recipe more healthful. In the end, of course, the family picks its favorite of the two dishes. It is the second TV show that will be produced by Everyday Health; the first, "Everyday Health," was nominated for a daytime Emmy this year.
"[The show is a] simple way to help people choose well and make decisions to improve their health," said Paul Slavin, senior VP of Everyday Health Studios and former senior VP-digital for ABC News. He added, "Anecdotally, the notion of rehabbing people's recipes is incredibly powerful."
Mr. Slavin also said that the series -- which was co-produced by Mark Koops of Trium -- has great potential to be extended to different genres of cooking and different media, such as books, which made it a good program with which to approach ABC.
While this may be the first YouTube original channel to evolve into a network TV program, it is not the first YouTube series to make it on to TV. Shows like "Fred: The Show" on Nickelodeon and "Annoying Orange" on Cartoon Network both got their start on the video platform before hopping to the small screen.
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