July 23, 2014 / 7:42 PM / 5 years ago

AT&T, Chernin Group close to deal to buy YouTube network Fullscreen -tech blog

An AT&T sign is shown on a building in downtown San Diego, California March 18, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS TELECOMS) - RTR3HMT7

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - AT&T Inc and the Chernin Group are close to buying a majority slice of Fullscreen, in a deal that will value the popular YouTube video network at $200 million to $300 million, said tech blog Re/code, citing sources familiar with the target company.

Otter Media, a joint venture between the telecom carrier and the investment group headed by media entrepreneur Peter Chernin, beat out several unidentified prospective buyers in past months, the blog reported on Wednesday.

AT&T, Fullscreen and the Chernin Group were not immediately available for comment.

The acquisition would follow on the heels of Walt Disney Co’s $500 million acquisition of Maker Studios earlier this year, which cast a spotlight on the potential value of fast-growing original content channels on Google Inc’s YouTube.

Time Warner Inc, Yahoo Inc and Relativity Media LLC are among the companies that have reportedly eyed or held talks with Fullscreen, which caters to a younger-skewing audience and claims some 3 billion monthly video views from more than 400 million subscribers.

Otter Media was set up this year with $500 million in capital investment from AT&T and the Chernin Group. Its stated goal is to acquire and launch over-the-top video services, so-called because they bypass traditional cable TV operators.

Under the deal now being hammered out, Fullscreen Chief Executive Officer George Strompolos, the ex-YouTube executive who started the company, will continue to run the video network and will retain a stake in the company, it said.

Reporting by San Francisco newsroom; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Lisa Shumkaer

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