Is Maker Studios About to Take Down YouTube? Seems Unlikely

Lack of brand, lack of scale make it unrealistic

Is YouTube about to face its own Epic Stream Battle of Web Video History? Probably not.

According to TheWrap, Maker Studios is looking to launch a new video site to rival YouTube. This story was apparently sparked by the infamous blogger/entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, who dropped some pretty bold statements this week at the Stream conference in Santa Monica, Calif.

And while we certainly wish Maker luck, that claims seems fairly dubious, and the ambition out of whack.

Maker’s move to launch its own site, if accurate, is the latest in a quiet revolution among YouTube creators and partners. Get as much of your audience off YouTube so you don’t have to share half of your ad revenue. The most prominent example of that is RocketJump, started by the guys behind the huge YouTube channel FreddieW. VevoTV is another example. As big as it is on YouTube, Smosh has its own site.

Maker, for its part, wants to produce and own more of its content, keeping more revenue in-house and being less vulnerable to the whims of repping talent that could bail at any moment. There are a few problems with this "let's beat YouTube" theory, however.

For one, Maker has a huge network, but it isn’t a consumer brand. It’s a safe bet that beyond a handful of Web video geeks, most fans of Maker content don’t have a list of their favorite MCNs.

It’s not going to be easy to launch a new brand that crosses over and unifies all that varied talent.

Why is Smosh able to launch a huge gaming channel in a matter of months? Because it already has a YouTube audience. Why are the most successful channels from YouTube’s funded effort longtime YouTube producers? Because they know how to use YouTube’s channels. Ray William Johnson may have bailed on Maker and inked a new deal with Blip. But the guy still produces every week on YouTube.

A rival to YouTube needs scale. Even with Hulu’s wealth of premium content and a national marketing campaign, it’s never come close to approaching YouTube’s sheer view volume or unique audience. There’s a reason RocketJump is still a niche site, despite FreddieW’s star power. That doesn’t mean YouTube will go unchallenged forever. Co-founder Chad Hurley says he’s planning something in this arena. But the company should be worried about Twitter or Facebook’s ambitions in this sector, maybe Yahoo. But not Maker.

And then there’s the Calacanis factor. While TheWrap and others have confirmed Maker’s plans with other sources, the company isn’t commenting. It’s possible that Calacanis may be overstating Maker’s ambitions. It wouldn’t be the first time the exec has issued an outrageous statement, such as boasting that he had an iPad before the product was launched, airing his views on the existence of racism in Silicon Valley, or saying that Google Buzz was awesome.