Maker Studios In Deal To Buy Blip As It Works To Reach More Screens

YouTube multichannel network Maker Studios has agreed in principle to acquire long-running video distribution network Blip. While the deal hasn’t closed yet and there are a number of issues to be worked out, it would bring more content under the Maker umbrella and could give the company more technology to distribute outside of the YouTube platform.

We’ve heard that the deal largely will be a stock transaction, with Maker retaining staff, technology and content deals that Blip has built up over the years. That will add to its existing content mix, which includes thousands of YouTube channels that attract billions of views per month across the network. But the big selling point is probably Blip’s technology.

End of an era for Blip

This will largely signal the end of the road for Blip, which was one of the early Internet video pioneers. The company has seen a number of iterations over the years:

  • Once upon a time it was sort of a YouTube competitor, back before YouTube was the big winner in the race to distribute videos over the Internet.
  • As YouTube rose to prominence, there was a bit of co-opetition between Blip and YouTube, and the two even signed a distribution deal.
  • Later, Blip positioned itself as a tech platform for distributing streaming videos to a number of different partners, including YouTube and Verizon, as well as devices like Roku streaming boxes.
  • Finally, Blip ended up where it started, re-launching as a destination site where high-quality creators could build a more beautiful online presence than what was offered at YouTube.

But while Blip had launched as a promising alternative to YouTube at a time when there was no clear winner in the video distribution wars, the company has languished in the world of emerging multichannel networks built off the back of YouTube. Maker has seen successful in that world, and so it makes sense for Blip and its creators to hitch their wagons to that rising star.

What Maker wants from Blip

The big question is what Maker gets out of the deal. Theoretically, Blip’s destination site could offer a place for Maker to distribute its content off YouTube, where it could garner higher CPMs and enable it to own its distribution platform. There have been a lot of rumors around Maker or another multichannel network essentially creating a YouTube competitor over the last year, ever since Jason Calacanis wrote his famous screed about not distributing on YouTube anymore.

It sounds good, and Maker is one of the networks that’s actually big enough to attempt such a thing. But the sense I get in talking to someone familiar with the deal is that Maker doesn’t really have much interest in moving all of its content onto Blip, or some other destination site that is not YouTube. What’s more likely is that Blip content gets added to Maker and is distributed as part of the YouTube multichannel network.

What could be interesting for Maker, though, is the technology that Blip has built for distributing to a number of different platforms. While Maker is unlikely to attempt to move its content completely off YouTube, it’s definitely interested in finding ways to distribute to more places and devices. That means hooking up with game consoles like the Xbox 360, streaming boxes like Roku, connected TVs and Blu-ray players, and getting on more mobile devices and tablets.

All of that is Blip’s bread-and-butter, and it had built out analytics and ad insertion for a number of different platforms where YouTube wouldn’t take its regular 45 percent cut. Obviously, for the time being, the bulk of Maker’s views will come from YouTube — whether it be on the web or through YouTube’s own mobile apps.

Maker has enough consumer-facing brands of its own that building more focused apps makes sense, whether it be on tablets, or Xbox, or other destinations that Blip currently services. That wouldn’t necessarily be a change in strategy for Maker, but an acceleration of its plans to serve its viewers on whichever device they’re watching.

Oh yeah, check out this video we shot at Maker last month to get an idea of how it thinks about its distribution plans: