Yup, you heard correctly. Big Frame, the home to such YouTube creators as Liam Dryden, Lana Mckissack, MysteryGuitarMan and Jimmy Tatro has been picked up by the larger MCN AwesomenessTV for $15 million. Lately, it seems like all we write about anymore is major corporations buying MCNs, MCNs merging, or creators having trouble with their MCN. So the question is: Has the bubble burst on MCNs? What does this mean for the space at large? Well, NMR can certainly guess. Here are three things that we’ve inferred from this deal (and all the other ones preceding it).
1. Traditional media still reigns
Whoever claimed YouTube would replace television in the next few years was clearly misguided (cough). More than ever we are realizing how dependable and well-heeled those fat cats at the major studios are. Sure we got a little arrogant because a few YouTubers popped up in a Taco Bell commercial. But with Hollywood money very much helping to keep the MCNs afloat, it’s becoming more apparent that not only is YouTube not going to supplant TV and traditional media, with more series cropping up on YouTube and fewer and fewer traditional vloggers, traditional media might in fact gobble up the old YouTube format and basically give us the same old TV shows in place of it. We did not see that one coming.
2. MCNs aren’t cutting it “as is”
Forget what you knew about MCNs, because that concept is over. The major MCNs have been acquired or co-opted by major corporations through cash influxes, and the small ones are having problems with turning a profit solely off of creator content. They’ve gone vertical in their search for new methods of staying financially viable, meaning they’ve ebbed into licensing, merchandising, crowdfunding and dedicated web sites. Whatever MCNs are becoming (because it doesn’t appear they will outright go away), it is very different. Not bad per se, just … different.
1. … Will they ever?
Can an MCN not only operate but actually sustainably grow off the original MCN template of: acquire a bunch of creators; take a percentage of their ad money; live like kings. Maybe not. As time goes on (like it tends to do) we are realizing how apparently flawed that system is/was. There seem to be too many balls in the air for MCNs to successfully juggle. Creators complaining of neglect are becoming more the rule rather than the exception, and if you are managing a dozen similar vloggers and only have one plum gig to offer, which one do you give it to? At a certain point — unfortunately it seems that point is when they are really valuable — creators like Grace Helbig realize they don’t really need an MCN. So the current system is somewhat geared against itself. It essentially manufactures its own competition. And until YouTube vlogger videos become valuable in syndication, that isn’t going to change.
Make sure you share this with all your social media friends so we can get lots of opinions and have a really informed discussion.
Here are some other interesting indications from YouTube: