MCN execs talk 6-figure deals, chasing YouTube talent

Reps from 5 top MCNs discussed why people are buying them, and also what - or who - they're buying at the Stream Market panel titled "Jump into Bed with an MCN."
June 4, 2014

The title of the Tuesday morning panel “Jump into Bed with an MCN” at Stream Market might as well have been referring to the recent slew of investments by major studios such as Warner Bros. and Disney, which have put big and bigger bucks into Maker Studios and Machinima, respectively.

Many old-guard media companies were criticized for making rash bets on tech startups during the dot-com boom. But this time, studios are doing their due diligence, according to panelists.

AwesomenessTV COO Brett Bouttier said that DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg was actively looking at buying a cable channel before it acquired AwesomenessTV.

“Well, that costs a billion dollars, and then another quarter of a billion dollars a year to program it,” said Bouttier of buying a cable network. “Or we could build one on digital and spend a fraction of that and actually probably reach kids and families as … effectively over the next dozen years than a linear television network necessarily would.”

“It’s so competitive going after all this talent now. You have no have no idea what we all go through.”

Moderated by Drew Baldwin, founder of Tubefilter, the panel also featured Sean Atkins, GM/SVP of digital networks and commerce for Discovery Digital Media; Larry Shapiro, head of talent at Fullscreen; Dan Weinstein, founding partner of Collective Digital Studio and The Collective; and Chris M. Williams, chief development officer at Maker Studios.

Panelists pointed out that the courting of YouTube stars has also reached a fever pitch in recent months.

“These are high 6-figure deals being thrown at them,” Shapiro said. Later, he remarked, “It’s so competitive going after all this talent now. You have no have no idea what we all go through. Dan and I had a fun experience with Brett where we were going after a talent, and Katzenberg calls the parents. And this was such a beauty pageant, and the money was going up.”

One thing that doesn’t change is the core nature of what is being consumed by audiences, according to Bouttier.

“It’s still a matter of content,” Bouttier said. Advertisers may need to be convinced that “buying that (digital) show is the same as buying a show on television every morning that does a million views.”

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed AwesomenessTV COO Brett Bouttier as CEO.

About The Author
Todd is StreamDaily's U.S. West Coast Correspondent. He has written for a wide range of publications, including The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, NylonGuys and, yes, even the Weekly World News. Earlier in his career, he served as senior editor for the pioneering alternative movie magazine Film Threat. You can reach him at toddrlongwell[at] or on twitter @toddlongwell1

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