In Depth
Opinion
In Depth

The startups behind the ultimate rise of multi-channel networks (MCN)


YouTube’s phenomenal success story not only gave impetus to ‘new media’ (or the ‘third media’), but also helped many ancillary industries spring up, most significantly- multi-channel networks (MCNs).

Globally renowned MNC Fullscreen, which claims to have received four billion views per month, was acquired by AT&T  in a deal valued at USD 200-300 million. Following its footsteps, Maker Studio, another globally acclaimed MCN, (with 6.5 billion views per month) was acquired by Disney in an acquisition worth around $950million in 2014.

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Image credit "Shutterstock"

What are MCNs?

MCNs are organisations that work with individual/groups of content creators. They bring together the advantages of a ‘studio’ to help indigenous, but popular, YouTubers. They help clients (channels) on YouTube  in issues like product promotion, programming, funding, exposure to increase views and subscribers, monetisation of content, digital rights and much more in lieu of an agreed revenue share generated by the creators.  This amount varies contractually.

Rise of MCNs in India

Talking about India, which has a considerable growth in digital consumption rising every year with a significant rise of 30 per cent (better than other media outlets like print, TV, Out of Home and radio), the rise of MCNs is rooting steadily. Still, there are many untapped areas for optimum utilisation of resources available with MCNs like ‘desired technology, the content creators are managing well, even within the limited options available of MCN’s in India.

Geographically, India is difficult for YouTube MCNs to accommodate in terms of multi-lingual and mulit-ethnic genres. But some MCNs have surely made a name for themselves by managing to break through the digital clutter.

Let’s check them out here:

Culture Machine (link): WithUSD18 million in a Series B funding round from Tiger Global Management and existing investors Times Internet and Zodius Capital, Culture Machine storming YouTube with its tie-up of 500 content creators across multiple genres of entertainment.It’s already shaking the YouTube ecosystem with its proprietary technology. It boasts of a YouTube certified team for audience development, analytics, marketing and PR team to link content creators with desired audience.

A brainchild of former UTV executive Sameer  Pitalwalla and ex-YouTube executive Venkat Prasad, there’s also talk about enrolling CRM to handle its strong client hold. Culture Machine has channels like Being Indian, Bollywood Gandu,Times of India, Bombay Times and media brands like Fox Star studios.

Qyuki (link): Launched in December 2012, Qyuki is a YouTube-certified MCNbacked by stalwarts like Shekhar Kapur, AR Rahman and Samir Bangara. Their content exclusively caters to the audience through Qyuki programmeslike ‘Warlord’, ‘Who Mee?’and‘AnimalOcity’.Fullscreen had earlier partnered with Qyuki to tap the Indian market, too.

Ping Digital (link): Launched in 2013, PingDigital’s first channel was India Food Network which is today one of the largest food network in a short span of 2 years with over 1000 plus produced food videos and since then has created and aggregated content in the utility, information and knowledge space. The company raised funds from consortium lead by Monisha Advani and Ashwin Damera.

With over 160 channels it also has several premium talent part of its network such as Vicky Ratnani, Atul Kasbekar, DJ Suketu, Ayaz Memon across genres and several other leading YouTube creators.

#fame (link):#fame, previously Famebox Networks, has a unique mix of channels, artists and content creators.To  further capture the digital market, it hasraisedUSD 10 millions in a second round of funding.

It has many web-series on fashion like Style Code, Diva ON Duty, School of Style and cookeryseries like Some Like itHot. Dedicated to multiple segments like fashion, music, comedy and food, it also features YouTube channels on fitness and cricket.

One Digital Entertainment (link) One Digital Entertainment is India's leading YouTube-certified premiumMCN. It creates and gives a platform to content by working with astrong YouTube network  and someof the finest artists and content creators around the world. It claims to manage more than 500 YouTube channels for various artists, Bollywood, media houses, record labels and celebrities like Sunny Leone, Vir Das, Papon,& etc. It also creates original content and distributes content throughdigital platforms like ZengaTV, Dailymotion, Facebook, Twitterand iTunes.

WhackedoutMedia (link): It claims to have humongous bandwidth to nurture, optimise, promote, protect & monetize any partner’s content in all genres. Itcovers mainstream commercial cinema, experimental short films, celebrity shows and individual creators, animated or live-action. Thus it boasts of not only being an MCN, but a powerhouse in other services like celebrity management, and promotional activities.

Nirvana Digital (link): The company recently surpassed one billion views onits network. With an assortment 200 YouTube channels and over 50,000 videos, it distributes its content to video platforms like Hulu, Amazon VOD, Apple’s iTunes mobile apps and devices.

Pepper media (link)- Pepper media creates original content and providesvideo solutions for brands and media entities. The company will follow a “YouTube first” policy for the next 18 months, and plans to subsequently strategise for  other platforms. Pepper Media claims to create branded channels with celebrities and buildsnetworks of content creators.

The rise of technology startups on YouTube domain

Going by these trends, one has to wonderabout the “onehand, many mouths”dilemma. With the number of content creators growing manifold, there’s still a dearth ofsystematic analytical toolsthat couldenable content creators to better their products.This knowledgecan help creators thrive in thecut-throat competitive market of digital videos consumption.

Globally, products like Tubular labs and VidIQ (US) help MCNs and independent content creators to optimise their reach with actionable data. However,home-grown startup Vidooly (link) caters to its customers with better intelligent product features and pricing.Vidooly is a YouTube audience development and analytics suite that helps content creators, brands and MCNs increase their views, audience base and earn more revenue. It can be used to get deeper analysis and performance of any YouTube channel or video such as video tags used in a video or channel, most popular influencers, subscribers and views growth, performance of video on social media, forecasting and other features that YouTube does not provide publicly.

The Noida based company also helps MCNs by providing CMS,besides technology and analytics solution to grow their business on YouTube.Currently itservesmore than 1,100individual content creators, including 6 MCNs, globally.(No conclusion)

About the author

Starting his career as a crime reporter with 'The Indian Express', Jai Vardhan is a storyteller, erstwhile entrepreneur and a habitual prankster. He is inclined towards entrepreneurship, philosophy and startups, not necessarily in that order. He likes connecting the dots, breaking news, nose and beliefs - ‘To wake up in life one must fall asleep’.

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