Genius Brands Acquires Michael Hirsh’s WOW! Unlimited Media


Genius Brands International has reached a deal to acquire WOW! Unlimited Media, which owns Frederator Studios, Mainframe Studios and an extensive YouTube channel network, for $53 million in cash and stock.

With bases in Toronto, Vancouver, New York and Los Angeles, WOW!’s studio operations service such clients as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sony, Hulu, DreamWorks, Moonbug, Peacock and Mattel. With the deal, Genius Brands will transfer its animation production to WOW!’s Canadian facilities, which are able to access various local tax credits. WOW! also owns the Channel Frederator Network, operating 2,500 YouTube channels with more than 1 billion monthly views. WOW!’s revenues from July 2020 to June 2021 were $56.4 million.

“The acquisition of WOW! substantially accelerates the financial growth of Genius Brands, delivering on our promise to shareholders to execute meaningful and accretive acquisitions, as we seek to rapidly consolidate the marketplace and become the foremost producer, broadcaster and consumer product licensor of high-quality children’s entertainment in the world,” said Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO of Genius Brands. “I have known and worked with WOW! Chairman and CEO Michael Hirsh throughout my career, and there is nobody more talented, accomplished or well regarded.

“In addition to the animation productions of WOW! today and the exciting new brand brought to the table for Genius Brands, WOW! has a massive social media footprint across YouTube, TikTok, Giphy, etc., expanding the Genius Brands kids’ audience demo into the lucrative teens and young adult marketplaces. The company has over 1 billion views per month on its Frederator YouTube Network, with over 2,500 advertiser-supported channels, making it the number one talent-driven animation YouTube Network.”

Heyward continued, “In addition to WOW!’s third-party service production, we will now place many of the exciting upcoming WOW!-owned content on Kartoon Channel! and activate it through our consumer products and global distribution sales network, further advancing revenues and earnings.”

Hirsh, chairman and CEO of WOW!, added, “I’m excited to work with Andy and the Genius Brands team. This is a powerful partnership that brings immediate and enormous value for shareholders. We bring production capacity, new IP and a robust and profitable YouTube Network with over a billion views per month. Genius Brands, with Kartoon Channel!, has a fully distributed footprint where our content can thrive and also help Kartoon Channel! itself expand. Genius Brands’ world-class consumer-product licensing team led by Kerry Phelan will enable us to monetize all of these great characters and brands. The synergies and growth opportunities are enormous.”

Hirsh will join the Genius board and continue to oversee Mainframe, Frederator Studios and WOW!’s networks and platforms.