YouTube is close to a deal with The William Morris Agency (one of the oldest and most respected in Hollywood) reports Brian Stelter of The New York Times. The deal would purportedly “give William Morris clients an ownership stake in the videos they create” but, beyond that, we know very little about it.
Though Google has attempted to extract meaningful ad revenue from its $1.65B acquisition with everything from partner programs to overlays to premium content from from CBS to MGM to Lionsgate, most big-name content owners have played rather wearily with the internet giant.
Kent Nichols, creator of pioneering webshow Ask A Ninja, calls the deal “just an easy way for famous people to join the partner program” for a “better deal than the scummy amateurs of the world that join the rev share program.” Nichols believes that without production financing, deals like this one are meaningless.
But Google knows that in order to attract compelling content, they need to create a value proposition worth the leap.
Indeed, as NewTeeVee’s Chris Albrecht notes, it’s hard to say in the absence of more information what exactly this deal means. And, though financing is certainly an important component of the equation, a mechanism that would allow established Hollywood talent to earn meaningful revenue while maintaining creative control would further shift the power structure of the entertainment industry.
If YouTube can deliver real revenue to seasoned video creators, like AdSense has (to a degree) for journalists-cum-bloggers, then this could indicate a massive shift of creative control.
Think about it: ‘What The Buck’ pulls in six-figures yearly from a show that requires almost nothing in the way of financing. Joss Whedon‘s Dr. Horrible turned a profit without studio involvement at any level. Felicia Day’s The Guild has distribution, financing AND complete creative control. All this before a clear revenue model has been figured out?!?
Creatives are getting the message: the power dynamic in Hollywood is shifting, and Google wants to play.