Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn
What's the Latest Development?
The success of Machinima.com's $10 million online series Halo 4: Forward Until Dawn, whose finale recently aired on YouTube, emphasizes the video site's increasing focus on studios, such as Machinima, that are able to provide high-quality Web content to users with the help of funding and support from YouTube's owner, Google. About a dozen networks currently operate on the site, with the biggest receiving views in the billions. This has the site's original creator base -- largely semi-amateurs who earn a decent amount of revenue for their work -- concerned about their future.
What's the Big Idea?
Studios, which were originally hailed as a way to boost the average creator's profile, are now being criticized by some for their restrictive contracts that prevent individuals from breaking free. As Google turns its attention from number of page views ("performance") to length of time spent viewing ("engagement"), it views these studios as the best source for engaging and interesting material and, correspondingly, higher ad rates and revenue. However, to some, this move makes it seem as though YouTube is following in the footsteps of cable and broadcast TV, comprising itself of "a small fleet of companies sailing comfortably on a sea of talented producers eager to be plucked from obscurity onto profitable ships."