The online video community erupted with speculation on Tuesday when rumors that multi-channel network Maker Studios had plans to launch a YouTube competitor began to surface.
The initial rumor began after entrepreneur Jason Calacanis cited Maker as a potential YouTube competitor during a discussion at the STREAM conference. While VideoInk cited an inside source, The Wrap reported that a Maker representative declined to comment. Maker Chief Development Officer Chris Williams did speak to The Wrap, saying: “We are exploring lots of different options. YouTube is and will always be our biggest partner.”
The news at this point has cooled to a simmer as Maker has refused to comment publicly, rendering the rumor exactly that. Mike Shields of AdWeek weighed in on the issue recently echoing many of the skeptical thoughts shared by industry insiders at this stage.
Shields writes: “And while we certainly wish Maker luck, that claims seems fairly dubious, and the ambition out of whack.”
The reality of the situation is that Maker Studios, as Shields writes, “… has a huge network, but it isn’t a consumer brand.” To that undeniable fact, although Maker could potentially bring their massive roster of YouTube creators to a new non-YouTube platform, the network’s name alone isn’t big enough to rival a Google-owned site. Yahoo is making huge steps towards becoming a serious Google contender simply because they are a staple of the internet, and they are a household name as much as AOL or Facebook. Maker, on the other hand, is not.
If Maker were to launch a YouTube rival, the biggest (and possibly only) advantage they would have is their signed talent. The MCN is partnered with names like Shaycarl, KassemG and Yogscast. These are all big names in YouTube, but does Maker really have the powers of persuasion needed to migrate these creators over onto an untested, startup video site?
Maker Studios from a talent perspective haven’t exactly inspired feelings of network harmony. Maker has had a series of very public disputes with Ray William Johnson, who to this day is still in legal battles with the MCN over a “hijacked” Adsense account. Asking every one of their creators to switch from a rock-solid platform like YouTube to a budding site would probably require more financial backing than the network has, given they recently laid off a sizable heft of their employees recently.
Shields, in the AdWeek piece, also calls into question what he refers to as “the Calacanis factor.” Calacanis, the entrepreneur who leaked the Maker news is notorious for public tech industry stunts, including a prank where he claimed that he had been a beta tester for the iPad weeks before it came out. Calacanis also recently wrote a detailed post recently explaining why creators should look for other alternatives outside of YouTube days before his Maker announcement.
These series of controversial rants or announcements are all too common ways to manufacture media hype, similar to Ryan Holiday’s recent BetaBeat post, which more or less called all YouTube content lousy. While these types of big announcements make media outlets salivate (including NMR), they may also dramatically bring down the credibility of the people responsible for announcing it.
Maker has still yet to comment on the news, and for now it seems, as Shields puts it, “possible that Calacanis may be overstating Maker’s ambitions.” Whatever Maker’s ambition, it seems safe to say that launching a YouTube competitor right now, barring a few monstrous media partnerships, would be reaching a bit too high for the network.
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