YouTube Nabs Next New Networks

Google is officially in the content business.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based search juggernaut has purchased Next New Networks, a Web video company built around developing and distributing niche content.

The move, which had been rumored for several months, places Google in a role it had sworn off for years—that of an art-driven content producer rather than an engineering-centric, content-monetization machine.

The acquisition of Next New, terms of which were not disclosed, is tied to a new business initiative being kicked off by Google: YouTube Next, which is aimed at taking the site’s content partner development to another level.

As detailed on its official corporate blog, YouTube now has hundreds of content producers that earn six figures on the site, with the number of partners making more than a thousand dollars a month having surged by 300 percent.

Now YouTube wants to dial up the number of services and grants it offers to content producers, including everything from offering more training to hosting more community events.

Meanwhile, Next New Networks provides YouTube with a pre-established roster of born-on-the-Web series to draw from. The company was launched in 2006 by a group of former TV executives, including Nickelodeon president and vice chairman of MTV Networks Herb Scannell.

Originally conceived as an outlet for a hundred or so micronetworks, Next New Networks established several series with a loyal following, including the car-themed Fast Lane Daily and the film geek-aimed Indy Mogul. But it was a series of videos in 2008, featuring the character Obama Girl, that put the company on the map.

Since that time, Next New has moved into the video platform and ad network arenas. Going forward, YouTube is planning to use the company as “a laboratory for experimentation and innovation with the team working in a hands-on way with a wide variety of content partners and emerging talent to help them succeed on YouTube,” wrote Tom Pickett, director of global content operations and YouTube Next.