With the pending acquisition of leading web content creation firm Next New Networks (NNN), Google’s YouTube is looking to transition from simple distribution of amateur videos to full-on production of professional-quality content. In the process, they’ll suddenly be competing directly with sites like Hulu, FunnyorDie, and Netflix, not to mention broadcast television itself. It just goes to show: If you can’t monetize the distribution of grainy amateur videos, start making your own.
Up until now, YouTube has operated under the belief that it’s more valuable to aggregate and distribute content than produce it. Since Google’s $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube back in 2006, they’ve attempted to improve the quality of the videos they host in order to increase viewership and advertising from those views. YouTube’s move to create content would help distinguish it from Hulu and Netflix by doing more than just regurgitating TV in a new medium. And now that Google TV, the new web-meets-TV project, has been blocked by all major TV networks from accessing their online videos, it may need to rely more than ever on successful YouTube content to stay afloat. Creating original programming could be one solution to help overcome this current showdown between old and new media.
And who better to create that programming than the people that already do YouTube the best? Next New Networks, a New York start-up, attracted their attention after producing two of YouTube’s top 10 videos of 2010 — including the number one viral hit, Bed Intruder, created by masters of viral culture The Gregory Brothers. The video became an overnight success, debuting in Billboard’s Hot 100 chart back in August and propelling Antoine Dodson into the spotlight—in the process turning him into an unexpected web superstar.
In an effort to crank out similar stand-alone hits in addition to consistent, programmed series over 12 networks, NNN launched the Next New Creators Program last December to support top emerging creators like The Gregory Brothers. The program currently boasts 65 independent filmmakers, whose work represents more than 50% of the network’s viewership. NNN’s mission is “redefining entertainment by championing the next generation of show creators, helping build their audiences, capabilities, and paths to revenue.” With over 1.2 billion views so far this year, they must be doing something right.
While YouTube has established itself as an important distribution platform for video sharing, partnering with NNN would help YouTube make the transition to publisher and producer. Their recent lifting of the 15-minute time limit on video uploads for many creators also gives them the capability to host longer and more compelling content to firmly cement their title as the most popular Internet broadcast station.
YouTube has made it easy for anyone to be a video publisher, but we all know that it takes great content to win. So if their new approach renders consumer publishing more lucrative and leads to clean, quality videos that people actually want to watch, what’s not to love?