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Exciting Times For Content Creators As Big Investors Flock To YouTube To Acquire Channels

by Tambay A. Obenson
May 1, 2013 12:49 PM
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This might not mean much to most of you, but those who are content creators (filmmakers included, but not certainly not exclusively) should probably be paying attention to these trends, because there might be opportunities that you aren't taking advantage of.

Announced this morning, DreamWorks Animation has acquired a YouTube channel called AwesomenessTV for $33 million.

This is significant because, as I've said a few times in the past, YouTube is essentially an online service provider akin to real-world companies like Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, etc. Except you're not paying a monthly fee for the service (you're paying in other ways, certainly, through advertising to start).

Within YouTube you have a whole bunch of networks, not-so unlike the NBCs, CBSs, ABCs, HBOs, CNNs etc of the television space. And within some of those YouTube networks, there are multiple smaller channels that are all part of the umbrella network.

That's essentially what AwesomenessTV is. It's like HBO, which includes several other HBO-branded channels within the HBO family. AwesomenessTV is a YouTube network with about 14 million subscribers (in comparison, HBO has about 29 million) and 800 million video views total.

And instead of purchasing cable TV networks, which Dreamworks was reportedly initially aiming to do, they are buying a YouTube network. 

How times have changed, when the two are becoming interchangeable.

As Variety reports, in addition to companies like DreamWorks, big-time investors like Peter Chernin are making investment bets in YouTube original content channels - at least those with a strong enough presence and promising growth prospects.

Even Time Warner was said to be eyeing a minority stake in one of these multichannel YouTube networks. 

As the CEO of one of those networks said to Chernin (the 2 year old Fullscreen network, CEO George Strompolos): “I told him, ‘You helped build Fox. This is the new Fox, plus ABC and NBC. You helped build “The Simpsons.” The next “Simpsons” is going to come from a company like us.’

Indeed. Although maybe a bit too ambitious. However, the proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes, with larger media conglomerates and investors, looking to YouTube channels as investment possibilities.

In thinking about all this, I couldn't help but take a look at blossoming YouTube channels like Issa Rae's - although I believe she's part of Pharrell's I Am Other YouTube network; but I don't know what exactly their agreement is, so I can't say in detail. As of today, her channel has over 121,000 subscribers, and over 15 million total views. It's not millions of subscribers like those that are attracting investors currently, but that's a healthy number, and it continues to grow. And I'm sure it's worth something to somebody, even at this early stage, especially as she continues to add new successful series to the channel, and also expand her brand into other spaces.

And there are other networks and channels that might also get looks.

The point of all this is, as I started out saying, the opportunities exist, and are far easier to take advantage of than ever before. It's mind-blowing to think that this new wave really began in the last 6 years, with the growth of video sharing sites like YouTube, as well as broadband internet access, cheaper, and more accessible digital technologies that allow for the creation of content, and more. The business of entertainment is rapidly changing.

It's pretty much anyone's game now, as far as I'm concerned. 

I've see some really horrible content (to me anyway) on YouTube, that's attracting millions of viewers on a daily basis. And the creators of that content are making money - in some cases, a lot of it. So, at this point, *quality* means nothing, as long as you can find an audience that appreciates whatever it is you're selling. And the larger the audience, the more visible your network/channel is, the more it grows, and the more attractive it becomes to these new investors who are looking to buy YouTube content channels, instead of cable TV networks, or building their own from scratch. 

At the very least, if you're a content creator, you've got to be thrilled by what's happening here. You're much closer to the *dream* than you ever could have been in the past.

It's been said countless times before, but it really is an exciting time to be a content creator.

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  • BLACKMAN | May 2, 2013 2:17 PMReply


  • FactChecker | May 1, 2013 5:43 PMReply

    Until you know how much $$ a content creator is making how can this possibly be exciting news?

  • Nadia | May 1, 2013 6:39 PM

    Um, you're joking right? The fact that the content creator is not only able to create the content for much cheaper than it would've cost as recently as 8 years ago, since the tools have become so much more accessible to everybody, but also there are several avenues to distribute and exhibit that content that didn't exist 8 years ago. I'm not sure how old you are, but YouTube was created in 2005. Vimeo, Daily Motion, Facebook, Twitter, and all those other social media sites came after it. Computers are cheaper, cameras are cheaper, people are shooting stuff with their phones (video-capable phones are still a relatively new invention, and the quality isn't bad), editing software is cheaper, some free, broadband internet is more accessible and a lot more people have it now than a few years ago, it costs you pretty much nothing to upload something you created onto any of these sites and watch it draw views, folks like Issa Rae wouldn't be able to do what she's doing right now. I could go on. And the fact that investors are buying up channels created by content creators, for millions of dollars. If you're not excited about any of that, any of the possibility in 2013 and beyond, then you should check your pulse.

  • Rodney | May 1, 2013 1:34 PMReply

    Two things struck me when I read the Variety article: (1) the youtube channel was launched in June 2012, meaning it took less than a year to get it to 14 million subscribers and over 800 million views and (2) the very last sentence, which is a quote from an analyst lauding the move given where viewers are going and the challenges of being a non-sports related cable channel. (DWA was looking to acquire a cable net before this deal)

    Read that last sentence in light of all of the black networks launching. I hope it’s not another case of “us” joining the party just as its ending.

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