Ynon Kreiz — former creator of Fox Kids Europe and helm of such shows as ‘Deal or No Deal’ and ‘Big Brother’ — has signed on as head of Maker Studios, and GRP Partners’ Mark Suster couldn’t be happier. In a blog post earlier this week, he reiterated his assertion that YouTube and video is “the future of online media.
With all the talk of “tech,” “branding,” and “investing,” it’s easy to forget that Maker Studios is first and foremost, a multi-channel content company. They are particularly known for their ‘Epic Rap Battles of History’ videos…which I’ve never found particularly funny…but that’s besides the point. They’ve got over 3 billion views a month, and in 2012 raised $36 million from Time Warner.
Suster makes a compelling thesis for why even the most middling of video content could mean big business in the future, noting that production and distribution costs have fallen 90% for online video, and the top 5 YouTube networks will pull in over $200 million in ad revenue this year. Those networks — Maker, Machinima, Zefr, Fullscreen, and Bigframe — have created 1,000 jobs in Los Angeles over the past three years.
Maker has been able to move from “small, crappy offices above a taco shop in Venice” to a 70,000-foot Culver City headquarters, and CTO Ryan Lissack is a former senior engineer at Salesforce.com.
As a “network,” Maker has over 70,000 individual contributors — like a video-version of the Huffington Post’s army of unpaid bloggers. The company was co-founded by a crew of experienced YouTube creators, including Philip DeFranco a.k.a. sxephil. In other words, much of the original video’s charm lay in the inexperienced, DYI ‘viral’ spirit. Much like the Huffington Post has calcified since the AOL acquisition, YouTube is a place where kings are easily dismantled. Even easier than in traditional media, in fact — any fool with an iPhone can start a YouTube channel! So we appreciate Maker trying to construct a bonafide empire, but we’re even more looking forward to the upstart video channels that will take its place, once the corporates began to inevitably chafe the creatives.