Maker Studios, the current third-largest multi-channel network according to comScore, has been rumored to be creating their own site, uprooting all of their talent (which includes KassemG and Epic Rap Battles of History) and trying to make a "YouTube killer" of some sort. It sounded like something that a popular multi-channel network could do, take all the channels and put them somewhere else, but according to AdWeek, Maker is simply diversifying. While a site is in the works, no pulling of talent is in their plans, but creating content independent of YouTube is likely.
Maker's New Video Platform Set for Fall Launch
According to the AdWeek story, Maker has hired developers and a tech team to create a platform by the fall. And while this isn't likely to be a straight-up YouTube competitor, and Maker's channels will still be on YouTube, it's yet another move by a network to try to have more control over revenue. The widely-discussed 45 percent that YouTube takes in revenue has led to creators and MCNs to consider other options, and what seems to be the prevailing thought is, "We need YouTube...but we also need to be independent of YouTube." In other words, continue to use YouTube for the exposure and the decent revenue, but attract visitors to another site where the ad money doesn't have to be cut between YouTube, the MCN, and the creator.
This has been a big gripe of creators who use MCNs, because the money is cut three ways (45 percent goes to YouTube, so creators and networks split the remaining 55) and by the time they get some money, it's way less than what it could be.
Maker won't be creating an "open" platform, where anyone can just sign up and start using their site like YouTube. These will be creators they've already invested in.
I've been hearing this "independence from YouTube" thing for awhile now. I think everyone recognizes that the exposure you get from YouTube is unlike anything else, but there's good reason to not pin your entire financial future on them. When I got to talk to Philip DeFranco last year, I asked him how he was "future proofing" his channel on YouTube, after controversial changes had caused creators to lose subscribers and views. He said:
Apps not dependent on YouTube and a schedule I stick with. When you think the boat could go down at any minute you could spend your time praying or looking for a way to "plug the hole", but I'm the guy building a raft.
This kind of thought is going through creators and networks alike. We're seeing it all over the place. Yesterday, we talked about Fullscreen looking to create original programming after a Series A funding round. We're seeing it with Netflix and their original programming. Having more control over content just makes good sense. Maker is the latest in a line of networks attempting to find a model independent of YouTube. It's something to look out for in 2013 and beyond.