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Disney to purchase video producer Maker Studios

LOS ANGELES -- Disney said Monday that it is buying YouTube channel operator Maker Studios for US$500 million as the family entertainment giant seeks to stay in front of younger viewers who are increasingly watching short videos online.

It's the latest and largest acquisition of a YouTube channel network by a major Hollywood studio and represents another vote of confidence in the video service as an incubator of talent.

The Walt Disney Co. said it would pay up to US$450 million more in bonuses if Maker meets performance targets, the company said. The Maker deal is Disney's biggest acquisition since it bought “Star Wars” creator Lucasfilm Ltd. for US$4.06 billion in late 2012.

The purchase will give Disney ownership of 55,000 channels — including Epic Rap Battles of History and makeup expert Amy Pham's The Fashion Statement. Combined, Maker has 380 million subscribers and generates 5.5 billion views per month.

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