YouTube Acquires Next New Networks, Introduces 'YouTube Next' Training Squad

Cute kittens and toddlers may be YouTube’s bread and butter, but Google’s video portal needs more than that to encroach on the goliath that is cable TV. But instead of shelling out for the rights to premium content from cable networks, YouTube is hoping it can nudge its existing community toward making high quality videos.

Today the company has confirmed that it has acquired Next New Networks, a firm founded in 2007 that focuses on producing high quality original video content for the web. Alongside the news, YouTube is announcing ‘YouTube Next’, a team of experts (made up by many of the NNN team, no doubt) who are setting out to “supercharge creator development and accelerate partner growth and success”. In other words, YouTube is going to give certain partners access to a team of experts that can hopefully help them produce better content. YouTube’s pending acquisition of Next New Networks was first reported by the New York Times in December.

From the YouTube blog:

In fact, the number of partners making over $1,000 a month is up 300% since the beginning of 2010 and we now have hundreds of partners making six figures a year. But frankly, “hundreds” making a living on YouTube isn’t enough and in 2011 we know we can and should do more to help our partners grow.

The YouTube Next initiative sounds good on paper, but it’s not really clear how YouTube is going to be able to scale the program to make it useful to more than “hundreds” of partners.

Last year YouTube launched a Partner Grants Program that allows promising content creators to receive an advance on their future ad revenue so that they can invest in making videos with higher production values. And it gave a $1,000 credit to 500 partners late last year to buy new video equipment.

But both of those programs revolved around money, which scales. This YouTube Next team is about expertise — YouTube will be contacting partners that it believes could use some help, and will send in its team of experts who can offer tips on YouTube’s platform and the kind of content that tends to do well online. This training will be free, but, again, only select content partners will get access to it.

YouTube says that Next team will be global, but it isn’t saying how many people will be involved. Beyond this partner training, it sounds like YouTube will be launching further grant programs under its Next brand.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.