Netflix acquired Israeli video game studio Fullscreen Media Inc. for an undisclosed sum in a move the company says will help grow the company into “the YouTube of video games.”
The acquisition, the first for the streaming giant, brings to an end one of a string of maneuvers intended to assert Netflix’s programming authority in a new and emerging area of entertainment. At the end of 2015, Netflix teamed up with Disney and DreamWorks Animation to form a joint venture called Binge. This year, the company acquired the rights to the TV series, “Lethal Weapon,” for about $100 million, a sum Netflix disclosed only this week in regulatory filings.
Fullscreen, with offices in Tel Aviv and Los Angeles, produces original video games content. It also streams through online platforms. The acquisition will help Netflix, the company said, expand what it calls its “end-to-end experience” with “fullscreen gaming, across multiple screens, on multiple platforms.”
Unlike YouTube or Netflix, Fullscreen operates primarily within the video game industry rather than outside it. YouTube will appeal to everyday users, but Fullscreen concentrates on pro gamers—professional players whose fame and popularity in their own medium would translate well onto TV. In addition to its original programming and viewership, Fullscreen has about 130 million registered users, according to the company.
The company launched a branded-content arm last year, and that has won endorsements from Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour, among others.
Fullscreen is known for big-name pro-gamer stars like Diem Brown, KSI, Logan Paul and Lopa Severa.
Fullscreen, which is largely funded by investors including Comcast Corp., launched its first-ever Super Bowl ad during last month’s first half. The ad features actor T.J. Miller, actor Bob Odenkirk and musician Moby in the 90-second spot.
“Together with the dream team at Fullscreen, we will produce groundbreaking series like ‘Joe Rogan Questions Everything’ and ‘Citizen Neurological,’” Ted Sarandos, the Netflix chief content officer, said in a statement.
“With the creative talent, flexible studio infrastructure and Netflix’s global platform, we’re looking forward to helping grow the professional gaming community as we build a multi-screen, multibillion dollar industry,” he added.
Netflix is also a big YouTube shareholder. The company owns a substantial portion of the video site, alongside firms like Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Yahoo and Comcast.
Some of its other major partners on YouTube include Verizon, which struck a recent deal with the streaming company to stream some of its live streams on Netflix.
In June, Netflix launched a new video player on YouTube that was intended to block those from violating its terms of service, which bars using copyrighted material, as well as posts that contain nudity or sex.