RTL swoops for Style Haul as YouTube MCNs stay in fashion
| 03 November 2014
The growing commercial power of the online video, and especially those that are YouTube multichannel networks, has been underlined in the news that RTL has bought control of MCN Style Haul.

Claimed to be the largest fashion and beauty network on YouTube, Style Haul aims to help curate style-centric programming designed for the 18-34 year-old female demographic and content across all social platforms. The network is home to more than 4,900 YouTube content creators and curators, across more than 62 countries and 199 million network subscribers with over 60 million monthly unique visitors. Since launch in 2011 Style Haul www.stylehaul.com has expanded onto multiple platforms and now works with nearly 5,000 content creators across fashion, fitness, beauty and lifestyle verticals and recently launched premium and original digital content programmes, as a result of a multi-year deal with RTL subsidiary FremantleMedia.

European media giant RTL led a $6.5 million finance round in Style Haul in May 2013 and now for will increase its shareholding from 22.3% to 93.6% for $107 million, thus valuing the company at over $200 million. RTL parent Bertelsmann is also a StyleHaul investor.

Under the terms of the deal, expected to close by the end of November, RTL Group has the opportunity to acquire the remaining equity, owned by StyleHaul's management and employees. The RTL Group will also invest $20 million into StyleHaul in order to fund the company's growth plan.

The investment sees RTL Group accelerate its rapidly growing presence in the online video space and its position in North America – the largest and most innovative media market worldwide. For the full year 2014, RTL Group expects to more than double its online video views to around 40 billion.

In a joint statement commenting on the deal, Anke Schäferkordt and Guillaume de Posch, co-CEOs of RTL Group, said: "The acquisition of StyleHaul is another major strategic step in developing RTL Group into a global powerhouse in the rapidly growing market for online video. StyleHaul has a first-class management team that built up the only multi-channel network of scale with a clear focus on the fashion and beauty segment, and has a highly engaged audience – a very compelling proposition for major brand advertisers. StyleHaul is an excellent fit with our digital portfolio, complementing our recent, technology-focused acquisitions BroadbandTV and SpotXchange. With its strong advertising sales team, impressive track record in producing Web content and the synergy potential with RTL Group's broadcasters and producers, StyleHaul has the ideal foundations for continued strong growth."

Confirming the deal to US entertainment bible The Hollywood Reporter, StyleHaul CEO Stephanie Horbaczewski said: "RTL has been an incredible supporter of me and my team for the last year, it's the right home for the company [and] represents the right fit for us culturally. We all know content is king and RTL has proven dominance across the content landscape. As much as we've grown, to be able to be plugged into such a fantastic global force that RTL is will be game changing for us."