A multi-channel network (MCN) is an organization that works with video platforms to offer assistance to a channel owner in areas such as "product, programming, funding, cross-promotion, partner management, digital rights management, monetization/sales, and/or audience development" in exchange for a percentage of the ad revenue from the channel.
The name multi-channel network has only recently begun to be standard, coined by former YouTube employee Jed Simmons (reportedly because of YouTube's distaste for the notion of "networks"). Prior to 2014 many names were used by the different companies, including Online Video Studio (OVS), Internet Television Company (ITC), YouTube Network or simply Network.[failed verification]
They work by a company setting up an account with YouTube CMS (the system used for ContentID), the company adds anyone who signs a contract with them to their CMS, allowing users (and the CMS account owner) to use monetization, block and track policies. Monetization allows for videos to generate revenue, Block prevents access to videos and Track allows content owners to see the analytics of 'reuploads' and copyright infringing content. Some MCN partners can block videos by country (e.g., if a video is uploaded with a banned or unlicensed logo).
MCNs have been described as a means to "negate the hassle involved when seeking out your own advertising opportunities on the site." Advertisers who work with MCNs can pay for services including overlay adverts, product placement and in show sponsorships, aiming to gain repeated exposure, endorsement by YouTube personalities, and increased audience engagement, especially compared with television advertisements which are often ignored or skipped.
The benefits and drawbacks of partnering with a multi-channel network have been discussed by several high-profile YouTube creators, including Hank Green, Freddie Wong as well as YouTube itself.
The possible benefits can include:
- Access to video creation and publishing tools
- Marketing and promotion
- Access to production and editing facilities
- Higher CPM
- Access to traditional media projects and celebrities
- Cover song and background music licenses on copyrighted music
- Live events and merchandise
There have been several controversies involving YouTube Networks.
Machinima has been criticised for the use of perpetual contracts. Ben Vacas, known to the YouTube community as "Braindeadly", attracted media attention in January 2013 over contractual issues with Machinima. Under the terms of his contract, Machinima were permitted to place advertisements on Vacas's videos and in return he would receive a percentage of the profits generated. However, the contract also disclosed that it existed "in perpetuity"; meaning Machinima would hold the rights to any content created by Vacas published on his partnered YouTube channel in his lifetime, a detail Vacas failed to read.
Machinima was criticised in early 2013 by high-profile YouTuber Athene for "intimidating... multiple partners" to sign a contract that would significantly lower their CPM. Athene called it "one of the worst deals on the internet" and advised his subscribers not to "sign with Machinima" stating that they could get a better arrangement with other networks.
Several MCNs have been purchased by larger corporations. In early 2014 Maker Studios was sold to Disney for $500 million, and Big Frame was sold to DreamWorks Animation through AwesomenessTV for $15 million. In June 2013, RTL Group invested $36 million in BroadbandTV Corp.
- YouTube. "Multi Channel Networks 101". Retrieved 2013-05-18.
- Davidson, Neil. "Can a Multi-Channel Network Boost Your YouTube Marketing Success?". Site Pro News. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- Vidani, Peter. "Fred Seibert dot com (Inspired by Channel 102, and Julie Klausner's "Cat...)". Fred Seibert dot com. Retrieved 2016-07-08.
- "Top Networks by Social Blade YouTube Stats". Social Blade. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- "TCN: A large Sub-network example powered by BroadbandTV". Social Blade. Retrieved 2015-03-05.
- "How to Start a YouTube Network. | YouTube Forum | The #1 YouTube Community | Video Editing, Branding & YouTube Help". Yttalk.com. 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- Millar, Michael (2013-04-08). "Digital product placement creates adverts out of thin air". BBC. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- "Should I Join a YouTube Network?". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- "YouTube Networks: 7 Things You Need to Know « Rocketjump". Rocketjump.com. 2012-09-02. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- "Introducing Fullscreen Uploader for Facebook Video". Fullscreen. 2015-03-25. Retrieved 2016-11-14.
- "Fullscreen To Spend A Cool Million On Marketing For Smaller Channels". Tubefilter. 2012-11-30. Retrieved 2016-11-14.
- "Big Frame Moves Into Larger Headquarters With Dedicated Production and Sound Studios". Newmediarockstars.com. 2013-04-10. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- "Turnstyle: Covering Pop Hits On YouTube Is Starting To Pay". Huffingtonpost.com. 2013-05-15. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- Kanter, Jake (2013-05-16). "ChannelFlip: TV red tape is driving talent online | News | Broadcast". Broadcastnow.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- "Fullscreen Opens Universal Music Library To Its Artists". Newmediarockstars.com. 2013-04-04. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- "Universal Music Publishing Group Announces Partnership With Fullscreen and Maker Studios". Newmediarockstars.com. 2013-02-14. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- Baumann, Drew (2013-04-04). "Introducing the new FAM experience // Fullscreen". Blog.fullscreen.net. Archived from the original on 2013-04-09. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- Hamedy, Saba. "Fullscreen acquires platform to help creators monetize content, engage with fans". Mashable. Retrieved 2016-11-14.
- Marsden, Rhodri (2013-01-23). "Channels spawned by YouTube are making a fortune but are the people making the videos missing out?". London: The Independent. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
- Stuart, Tessa. "Rage Against Machinima". Houston Press. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
- Boumaaza, Bachir. "YT Partners Warning". AtheneWins. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
- Pomerantz, Dorothy. "With Disney Buying Maker, Do All Big Media Companies Need To Up Their YouTube Game?". Forbes. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
- Spangler, Todd (2014-04-02). "AwesomenessTV Buys YouTube MCN Big Frame for $15 Million". Variety.
- Spangler, Todd (2013-06-26). "RTL Takes Control of BroadbandTV with $36 Million Investment". Variety. Retrieved 29 June 2015.