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YouTube, Google to Make Original Content With Acquisition of Next New Networks?

Next New Networks, YouTube

Web TV destination and production company Next New Networks has made its name by catching rising stars on YouTube—and YouTube has certainly taken notice. It surfaced today that the Google-owned video service was in talks to acquire Next New Networks, in what would be YouTube's first foray into original content.

Details of the potential deal are sparse. The New York Times reports that Youtube and NNN have not signed an agreement, nor has pricing been disclosed. We've reached out to our sources at NNN, so stay tuned.

NNN, which was a focus of our September issue on web TV, has increasingly become a destination for online video. It features more than a dozen channels of original shows and episodes—including Barely Political, which became known for its Obama Girl videos, which racked up 50 million views on YouTube. Its music parody series The Key of Awesome, has become even more popular. A spoof of Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" music video landed at second place on YouTube's most viewed videos of 2010, receiving more than 52 million views.

It's likely YouTube wants a bigger piece of this traffic. The video site, which syndicates NNN's content, has become an ad-revenue generator for Google. As YouTube continues its push beyond computers—on to smartphones, iPads, and Internet-enabled televisions with Google TV—it makes sense that the company would want to incorporate original material along with its endless troves of user-generated content.

But that would mark a significant change of strategy for parent company Google, which has always insisted that it doesn't want to get into the original content game. Although competitors Yahoo and AOL have ventured in that direction, Google has hesitated. Why start now with NNN? It's not as if the gain from ad revenue that it used to share with Next New will much affect its bottom-line—after all, NNN will continue to produce popular YouTube videos regardless of whether this deal goes through. So, for now, color us skeptical.

Then again, if NNN can rack up tens of millions of views without Google's help, how much traffic could they generate when YouTube features them daily on its frontpage?

Follow Austin Carr on Twitter.

To read more on Next New Networks, check out our feature article and web video package.