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Viacom acquires VidCon in live and digital push

Viacom has acquired VidCon, a conference focused on YouTube content creators and their fans, in a move designed to boost its live event and digital businesses.

Vidcon_logoThe channel group, which owns youth brands MTV and Nickelodeon, said that VidCon will remain a stand-alone entity, retain its senior leadership team, but will be able to “expand its global reach”.

Viacom said the deal will accelerate its participation and investment in next-generation platforms, following its establishment of Viacom Digital Studios in November and its acquisition of influence marketing firm WHOSAY last month.

The agreement also plays into Viacom CEO Bob Bakish’s long-term strategy to “considerably increase” the number, reach and impact of live events in the company’s portfolio.

“VidCon has become the foremost gathering place for the passionate online video community, and the access to talent, experts and education that VidCon provides for attendees is unparalleled,” said Jason Jordan, Viacom executive vice president of multiplatform strategy and operations.

VidCon CEO Jim Louderback and co-founder Hank Green will continue to lead the event from its offices in Missoula, Montana. Viacom said it will “simply provide more resources and a bigger microphone” to allow VidCon to continue nurturing the online video community.

“We’re huge fans of the VidCon team, and we share the same enthusiasm for the power of connecting talented creators with their incredible fan communities,” said Kelly Day, president of Viacom Digital Studios.

“This team has built an unprecedented live experience that brings together the global online video community in celebration of the people and platforms shaping the future of content, and we’re excited to join forces as we look to expand our slate of original digital programming and partnerships.”

VidCon’s Louderback said: Viacom’s expansive reach across all of our key constituents will give us the opportunity to expand our global footprint more rapidly.

“We’re also looking forward to their expertise in pioneering and executing live fan-first events – from the Video Music Awards and BET Experience to Comedy Central’s ClusterFest – as we continue to make VidCon a life-changing experience for those that create and love online video.”

Last year, Viacom launched Comedy Central’s first comedy and pop culture event ClusterFest, while Paramount Network’s Bellator MMA (mixed martial arts event) visited New York’s Madison Square Garden for the first time.

The first VidCon event took place in Los Angeles in 2010 and the online video conference now takes place three times a year in Anaheim California, Amsterdam and Melbourne.

Louderback was appointed VidCon CEO last year. He was previously CEO of Revision3, a multichannel network that was acquired by Discovery in 2012.