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Fresh Off Disney Deal, Maker Studios Comes to Cable TV (EXCLUSIVE)

Maker Studios, which is being acquired by The Walt Disney Co. in a deal worth up to $950 million, has cut a content-licensing deal with cable music-video service Music Choice for more than 500 hours of the YouTube multichannel network's clips.

As part of the deal, which brings Maker content to pay-TV services for the first time, Music Choice will feature a monthlong takeover in April of Maker talent partner Bart Baker's music-parody videos (pictured above).

Damon Williams, Music Choice's VP of programming, said the company completed the deal with Maker prior to its engagement with Disney.

"I went after them before I knew anything about Disney," he said. "I felt the content they were creating would really resonate -- and saw an opportunity to bring their content to the TV platform."

SEE ALSO: Disney Buys Maker Studios In Deal Worth At Least $500 Million

Maker also has deals to develop digital channels and content with artists including Will.i.am and Snoop Lion (formerly Snoop Dogg), programming that also will be desirable to Music Choice, Williams added.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Music Choice is licensing Maker's video content in the same way it licenses content from record labels and media companies.

"This is a valuable partnership for Maker, as Music Choice's multiple properties are a perfect fit to for our artists and music programming," said Jenna Seiden, VP distribution and strategic partnerships at Maker Studios. "We're thrilled that Music Choice viewers will now be able to experience stars like the incredible Bart Baker and we look forward to sharing more great music content in the coming year."

YouTube creator Bart Baker has 2.5 million subscribers for his channel, with 568 million views to date. The channel features his parodies of pop superstars like Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. He also offers nearly 50 songs on iTunes, merchandise and his own iPhone music-video app. Music Choice will premiere the special "Bart Baker's Funniest Videos" April 1 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on the MCN Play linear TV service.

"He has a huge audience on YouTube... We'd love to bring that to TV," Williams said.

SEE ALSO: Maker Studios Unveils New Programming Strategy

The Maker content on Music Choice will be branded Maker Music, like the MCN's music channel on YouTube. The cable service also will include original Maker series such as "These Are Your Fans," with interviews of fans of pop stars; comedy series "All In," hosted by Timothy DeLaGhetto; and "Lyrics Decoded," person-on-the-street interviews about what song lyrics mean.

Music Choice's streaming-music channels are available in 57 million pay-TV households and its VOD service is available in 54 million; DirecTV and Dish Network are the two biggest operators that don't carry the services. MC Play is available to 15 million subscribers through AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS, Cox and smaller operators. The company will include Maker content on both the VOD and linear services.

Founded in 1987, Music Choice is a partnership among Comcast, Cox and Time Warner Cable, along with subsidiaries of Microsoft, Motorola, Sony Corp. of America and EMI Music.

Initially Music Choice will offer a selection of about 50 clips from the MCN. Music Choice's VOD platform and linear TV platforms carry advertising, but the company earns most of its revenue through pay-TV carriage fees. "The idea is, we want to be the music destination for our affiliates," Williams said. "We feel like bringing great content from the online YouTube platform is huge."

Watch Music Choice's promo clip for "Bart Baker's Funniest Videos":

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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