Today’s announcement and other financial moves reportedly in the works for the gaming-oriented online service underscore how hard it is for channels to make money at YouTube. Machinima – which describes itself as “the number one global video entertainment network for young males” — says today that the layoffs, hitting 30% of the workforce, are part of its “restructuring in and around its sales organization” as it leans on its “longstanding partnership with YouTube to drive media sales.” But it also comes as it lines up $18M in funding from a group led by Warner Bros, website Re/code reports, citing “people familiar with the transaction.” Last week The Wall Street Journal reported that Warner Bros was mulling the possibility of investing as much as $15M in the online video operation. The numbers are a far cry from the amounts approaching $70M that Machinima was said to be hoping to secure last year. One of the problems for YouTube services like Machinima is that Google takes about 45% of the ad revenue it sells, as well as much of the inventory.
UPDATE, 12:39 PM: Google isn’t taking a court order to take down the 14-minute trailer for Innocence Of Muslims lying down. YouTube‘s parent company filed an emergency motion at the 9thCircuit Court of Appeals late yesterday urging it to stay its order pending a full en banc hearing. Google’s 29-page motion raised First Amendment concerns and alleged that there’d be copyright “chaos” for everyone — especially Hollywood — if minor players in a production can assert a right to control its fate. Service providers including YouTube lack the ability to determine who has a valid copyright claim, the search giant says. “And absent a stay, Google, YouTube, and the public face irreparable harm because the panel’s order will gag their speech and limit access to newsworthy documents—categorically irreparable injuries.” In a case than lasted more than a year and a half, the court sided with actress Cindy Lee Garcia who wanted the trailer for the anti-Islam film taken down. We’ll see what the Ninth Circuit says.
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY AM: Actress Cindy Lee Garcia has won a significant victory in her copyright case against Google over her request to have Google-owned YouTube take down the trailer for the controversial anti-Islam film Innocence Of Muslims. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision today (read it here) rejected Google’s assertion that the removal of the film amounted to a prior restraint of speech that violated the U.S. Constitution. The court is ordering YouTube to remove the video, and the video-sharing site could be hit with major penalties.
UPDATE: 8:45 PM: Jimmy Kimmel revealed on his ABC late-night program tonight that the video of a wolf posted to YouTube by U.S. luger Kate Hansen with the message “I’m pretty sure this is a wolf wandering my hall in Sochi” was in fact a wolf in Los Angeles walking down a replica of the hall outside Hansen’s Sochi hotel room. Hansen agreed to let Kimmel’s people take over her Twitter account to post the video, he said. Like the last time Kimmel punked the media with his fake twerk-fail video, he ran clips of various news outlets he’d fooled — many of them ruminating as to whether the animal actually was a wolf, a husky, a malamute, or a mutt. Kimmel showed the rest of the video, in which he is seen skiing down the hallway, calling out the name “Garfield” and asking, “Have you seen my wolf?” Kimmel then interviewed Hansen via Skype, who said “there was a little more backlash” at the hotel than she’d anticipated, including security staff who, she said, were “freaking out” after word of the video got around. “It kind of went a little crazy here,” she said. The animal is a “timber wolf mix,” its handler said, believed to be 80%-90% wolf, though she was not certain, and is named Rugby.
Nine digital media companies have joined forces to create the Global Online Video Association, the first-ever org designed to represent and promote the growing digital content industry. Multi-channel networks Big Frame, BroadbandTV, Collective Digital Studios, DECA, Discovery Digital Networks/Revision3, Fullscreen, Maker …
Think big advertisers are so focused on TV’s Golden Age programming (and audiences) that they aren’t interested in the YouTube-based creators drawing hordes of younger viewers to watch their back-bedroom shows? Think again.
Earlier this week, research firm eMarketer estimated Google would take in about $5.6 billion in gross YouTube advertising revenues, up 51 percent from 2012, and would keep nearly $2 billion after paying YouTube partners and expenses. Those estimates are notably higher than other Wall Street firms’ (and Google doesn’t break out its YouTube revenues and expenses separately), but suggest regardless that lots of money is sloshing into the online video king.
And based on this week’s Los Angeles events sponsored by Ford and Nintendo, Madison Avenue and its big clients are definitely tuning into YouTube’s rising echelon of performers for marketing boosts in lots of different ways besides just buying an ad.
The second season will begin on October 17. It’s noteworthy after the initial 11 episodes last year became stand-out performers for YouTube, where it’s often hard to separate hits from shows that are merely supported by hype. The series …
David Bloom is a Deadline contributor.
That’s the intriguing notion floated by Kelly Day, who headed online video distributor Blip.TV before it was bought by Maker Studios, the even bigger creator and distributor of online content based in Culver City. Day, still an adviser to Maker, was keynote speaker as the WestDoc conference for documentary, nonfiction and reality-show makers opened this morning. Online pundits have been griping lately about the 45% cut of ad revenue that Google takes for video it distributes on YouTube, up from a 70-30 split early in the platform’s life. While Day acknowledged it’s expensive and technically complicated for Google to host and distribute the massive amounts of video it makes available on YouTube, show creators have a sense that, because YouTube has so much content, “for the most part there hasn’t been a lot of sophistication about how to monetize the best of that content.” For companies such as Maker that operate so-called Multi-Channel Networks, or MCNs, that represent dozens or even thousands of individual online creators, “there is a great opportunity to think about how to package and monetize that content better,” Day said. And Google might not even mind, she said, given its previous pronouncements and how it allowed a similar ecology of outside companies to grow and thrive atop its core search-engine business.
The lives of producers tasked with finding fluffy upbeat videos to sprinkle into TV newscasts has become a living hell since Jimmy Kimmel punked a whole industry with his Twerk Fail YouTube prank. That’s particularly true for those working under the watchful eye of Matt “Disappointed By The Laziness Of The Media” Lauer at the Today show. This morning, Today dove into the ratings catnip that is Jason Mortensen – star of a funny YouTube video that has nearly as many views as had Kimmel’s funny Twerk Fail before Kimmel revealed it was a prank – 6 million and growing in just one week. In the video, Mortensen is seen allegedly coming out from under anesthesia after surgery, being fed crackers by some very pretty woman who, he discovers, is his wife of several years, which causes him to exclaim, “I hit the jackpot!” and note she has perfect teeth. He withholds judgment on her twerkside, requesting she turn around, but she politely declines — because, of course, she’s documenting their whole renewed acquaintance to post on YouTube, “so he can see how he acts, and so I can show people,” she explained sweetly to the Today on-air panel of non-lazy journalists.
Controversy over a comedy short helped Russell Simmons launch his new YouTube channel All Def Digital yesterday. But a firestorm of complaints over Harriet Tubman Sex Tape, in which the abolitionist has sex with her master in order to blackmail him into creating the Underground Railroad, led Simmons to pull the video today and issue an apology. “In the whole history of Def Comedy Jam, I’ve never taken down a controversial comedian,” said Simmons in a statement. “When my buddies from the NAACP called and asked me to take down the Harriet Tubman video from the All Def Digital YouTube channel and apologize, I agreed.”
“I’m a very liberal person with thick skin,” he continues. “My first impression of the Harriet Tubman piece was that it was about what one of actors said in the video, that 162 years later, there’s still tremendous injustice. And with Harriet Tubman outwitting the slave master? I thought it was politically correct. Silly me. I can now understand why so many people are upset. I have taken down the video. Lastly, I would never condone violence against women in any form, and for all of those I offended, I am sincerely sorry.”
YouTube was designed to make it easy for people to share videos, but its co-founder Chad Hurley tells me that “we were never able to provide tools for people to create better content.” He and fellow co-founder Steve …
UPDATED, 11:14 PM: YouTube today dismissed the support that IATSE, the DGA, AFM and SAG-AFTRA has shown for Viacom’s efforts to get another day in court with its $1 billion copyright infringement suit. Not only does the Google-owned company say in a statement that the unions’ brief “recycles” a previous filing from 2010 in the suit but that they “don’t seem to have followed developments in the case.” Read the statement YouTube issued via a spokesperson late Monday below:
The brief filed by entertainment industry unions recycles their brief from the first appeal in 2010. They don’t seem to have followed developments in the case or recognized the changes to YouTube’s place in the entertainment ecosystem. The Court has twice rejected Viacom’s unfounded copyright infringement claims. And even Viacom has conceded it doesn’t object to how YouTube has operated for the last five years. YouTube has signed licensing agreements with every major movie studio and record label, has developed an industry-leading Content Identification system used by 4,000 media partners, and does more to prevent piracy than any other major video hosting provider.
PREVIOUSLY, 6:33 PM: Despite another recent court loss, Viacom’s latest attempt to revive its billion-dollar copyright suit against YouTube has just gotten some very vocal support again from some old friends. “YouTube’s role in the rampant, systematic distribution of content in violation of the exclusive rights of copyright holders caused and continues to cause harm to the entertainment industries and the members of the Guilds and Unions working in those industries,” said a joint brief filed late last week by lawyers for the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the American Federation of Musicians. “We urge the Court to consider the full ramifications of YouTube’s actions, and request that the Court reverse the lower court’s decision.” The unions offered similar such support as they did last week back in 2010. Filed on August 2 this year, the quartet’s new 28-page brief (read it here) comes after Viacom filed materials on July 30 with the 2nd Court of Appeals asking for a new judge in the long-running case. That expected legal move against Judge Louis Stanton followed the NY-based U.S. District Court judge granting YouTube yet another favorable summary judgment in the matter on April 18. That was the second such decision for the Google-owned entity in the case. Viacom first launched the $1B action in 2007.