Is YouTube Trying to Buy Up Popular Online TV Networks?

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The New York Times is reporting that YouTube may be attempting to acquire Next New Networks, a company that owns 25 episodic video networks operating within the all-encompassing Next New Networks brand.

Some of the videos to emerge from under Next New Networks’ banner have gone on to become incredibly popular. Two of them—Bed Intruder Song and Glitter Puke—made their way into YouTube’s top 10 most-watched videos this year, grabbing over 50 million views each so far.

A recent Next New Networks blog post claims that the company managed over 1.2 billion views across all of its videos in 2010. It’s not hard to see where YouTube might find value in owning those videos and selling advertising against them.

It’d be a big step for YouTube and, by extension, Google, which owns YouTube. Whenever Google is asked about selling content—video, music, TV shows, movies—representatives will almost invariably insist that Google’s business is search and search advertising. The company has been leery about selling content or being thought of as selling content.

The idea of YouTube producing its own videos, though, makes a lot of sense. And short of setting up shop on its own and starting from scratch, it’d be better off reaching into Google’s deep pockets and going after a sure thing like Next New Networks.

YouTube has to split advertising revenues with the creators of popular videos already, so why not buy the company that seems to be making the most popular videos anyway and keep that all that ad revenue in the family?

The supposed deal appears to still be in the early stages, if it’s indeed happening. The Times article quotes unnamed sources, and reps from both YouTube and Next New Networks have declined to comment.

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