Disney buys Maker Studios for $500 million

Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger accepts the Milestone Award onstage during the 25th annual Producers Guild of America Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 19, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. 

The Walt Disney company will pay $500 million for Maker Studios, and is willing to add $450 million more to the deal if Maker meets performance goals. 

Fueled by a subscriber base of some 380 million people, Maker's content gets more than 5 billion views per month. 

Disney may excel at producing big-budget blockbusters, but Maker Studios is producing what kids and teens increasingly want: short-form videos they can watch on their cellphones.

And since young people are flocking to YouTube productions, so are advertisers. Brad Adgate, a Senior Vice President of Research at Horizon Media says forecasters predict sales of $5.7 billion in online advertising this year.

Adgate says it is unclear whether Maker Studios will be expected to fall in line with the family-friendly Disney brand and focus on PG-rated content, or whether Disney is willing to spice things up a bit for the sake of the particular demographic, among whom, Maker's content reigns supreme: teenagers. 

About the author

Noel King is a reporter for Marketplace's Wealth and Poverty desk.

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