One of the big trends in the online video world these days is big independent video providers seeking to expand their distribution and monetization beyond YouTube while controlling more of their own destinies. The trend is gaining further momentum as the WSJ is reporting that VEVO intends to launch its music app on Apple TVs and Samsung Smart TVs, and AllThingsD is reporting that Maker Studios is acquiring Blip.
According to comScore's July online video rankings, VEVO was the top-ranked YouTube partner, with 47.6 million unique viewers and 581.9 million videos, while Maker Studios was ranked third, with 28.6 million unique viewers and 530.7 million videos.
In VEVO's case, the Apple and Samsung TV apps extend its recently launched "VEVO TV" initiative to curate and present a linear TV channel style music experience (vs. the typical online on-demand model). The concept is a throwback to the early days of MTV, but as I argued last March, I think there's a place for VEVO TV, despite huge changes in consumer behaviors. While Apple and Samsung TVs are both interesting outlets, the biggest opportunity a year from now will be via Chromecast, which I expect will have millions of devices installed. Regardless, VEVO TV gives VEVO full control of its monetization.
In acquiring Blip, Maker Studios is taking another path to get beyond YouTube. Blip was one of the early online video platforms/distributors and has more recently been trying to build its talent pool (its big recent win was adding Maker star Ray William Johnson and his new production company to its lineup). Blip says it has 2,000+ independent producers working with it, which drive 30 million unique viewers per month. So at a minimum, the deal gives Maker Blip's technology, viewers and additional producer relationships.
As I noted recently, YouTube isn't discouraging its biggest partners from branching out. YouTube sees itself as the foremost incubator for online video originals. Part of the natural evolution process for successful creators is to seek additional distribution. The whole space will remain in flux as connected devices open up huge opportunities for independents to be in the living room, competing for audience on a level playing field with incumbent TV networks.