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THE KEY OF AWESOME: Pop-culture parodies, as in this Katy Perry -- inspired vid, have scored 125 million -- plus views. | Photograph Courtesy of barelydigital.com

Next New Networks Takes Grassroots YouTube Talent to the Next Level

Catches rising YouTube stars -- and makes them legit.

As host of the Web series Freezer Burns, Gregory Ng has a dream gig -- if you're a college kid who just attended a Phish concert. Ng, a creative director at a Raleigh, North Carolina, marketing company by day, masochistically ventures deep into the frozen-food aisle to review delicacies such as Carvel Cinnabon Slice'mmms Ice Cream Roll. "I've consumed more varieties of frozen food than anyone else on the planet," he says. His goal? To be renowned as the "Frozen Food Master." (Take that, Mrs. Paul.)

To get there, Ng joined Next New Networks last spring. Freezer Burns had built a small YouTube following (500 to 800 views per show), but as part of NNN's Hungry Nation channel -- Food Network for the starving and ironic -- Ng's show is heating up. A frozen burgers exposé got 135,000 views.

NNN is a network of networks that has made an art of finding grassroots YouTube talent -- like Obama Girl, now at home on its Barely Political channel -- giving them equipment, ad and marketing support, syndication, and cross-promotion in exchange for a split of the revenue. The company utilizes what it calls "super distribution" to meet viewers where they are, be it iTunes, MSN, Yahoo, Hulu, or emerging venues such as Boxee.

CEO Lance Podell wants each of its 15 channels (so far) to continually roll out new shows, so sites such as ThreadBanger, devoted to homemade fashions, can become destinations. "In Web TV, there's no proof that serial programming is better than stand-alone episodes," Podell says.

This summer, NNN reached a major milestone as the ticker in its downtown Manhattan office reached 1 billion views. Podell says the company isn't profitable but hopes to be by the end of 2010. Given its success with Obama Girl, NNN is voting for a controversial 2012 election season. "We'll be very excited," says Barely Political founder Ben Relles, "if Sarah Palin runs."

3 to Watch

Tara Stiles Yoga

The Zen stylings of a onetime dancer and model who now keeps Deepak Chopra's chakras from getting out of line helps viewers develop ripped abs through yoga and the Web. Part of NNN's new health-and-wellness network, Click Fitness.

Rated: Awesome

The Weird Al 2.0 song parody series, The Key of Awesome, has been a smash (125 million-plus views) for NNN's Barely Digital channel, so this fall, the network will give movie trailers the same treatment. "It will be both cinematic and awesome," promises Erik Beck, cofounder of NNN's film channel, Indy Mogul.

The Wacky Gamer

A lively celebration of all things nerd: superheroes, Call of Duty, not having sex, and so forth. Hosted by Jeff Reitman and Adam McLaughlin, the show will be a flagship for NNN's soon-to-launch video-game network, VSauce, which will feature geek-culture shows and sketch comedy.

Coming up next ... Z-listed, which will follow Andrea Feczko as she attempts to become famous in New York by emulating her celebrity idols (early fall) ... The Indy Report, an art-house version of NNN's film-news show Movie Buzz (early fall) ... A gourmet how-to called Food Wishes from Chef John, a former California Culinary Academy instructor (early fall)

Read more of our Web Video package

THE KEY OF AWESOME: Pop-culture parodies, as in this Katy Perry -- inspired vid, have scored 125 million -- plus views. | Photograph Courtesy of barelydigital.com

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