The backbone of the MCN business was rolling up channels and, in aggregate, selling advertising packages against the volume of video inventory. In many cases, the more the better. Machinima, Maker Studios and Awesomeness TV caught heat for having upwards of 50,000 creators in their network at a time, while only servicing the top 5% of those, if that. Some of those deals resulted in disgruntled creators, who were locked into seemingly insane multi-year contracts. The value of the business was, then, directly related to the volume of reach an MCN commanded.
The power was in the hands of the MCN, and the creator was at the mercy of the deal. That’s about to change, as of today.
“Starting today, we’re rolling out an update that gives creators the choice and flexibility to better manage access to their channel account,” said a YouTube spokesperson in a statement. “Since creators are ultimately the owners of their channels, we want to make sure they control who can access their revenue, content and data.”
As one MCN executive told VideoInk, the new option is being called “Cr-Exit”
internally for “Creator Exit”. Another referred to it as a way for creators to “eject themselves” from their MCN’s CMS. In truth, the functionality has existed for months as a “request” button. Over the last few, YouTube has worked closely with various MCN’s including Maker Studios, Fullscreen and Defy Media to create a “Remove Access” procedure and ensure there’s not a mass exodu. The goal: that this fares well for all parties involved.
“We’re supportive of the change giving creators the capability to ‘remove access’ via the Creator Dashboard and we understand YouTube’s rationale for modifying the existing functionality. We view any tool that further supports creators and encourages open lines of communication between talent and their network partners as a positive one,” said Jason Cosgrove VP, Strategic Partnerships / GM, DEFY Creators Program, who has been working directly with YouTube for this feature roll-out.
So what does the feature actually entail?
Well, for starters, the departure from the CMS isn’t immediate. MCNs will have 30 days to address the request to either amend the terms or finish the term of the contract. If the MCN does not address the terms of the contract with the creator within 30 days, the creator will automatically be freed from the MCN CMS.
Secondly, the feature will roll out in waves to various tiers of creators, so there won’t be a huge tidal wave impact to any MCNs who’s network partners are gravely disatisfied.
According to Cosgrove, this doesn’t pose a massive danger to MCNs network businesses. “Substantively, the tool does not impact our obligations to our creators and vice versa. In our case, we feel our boutique partnership program offers our partners great value and puts an emphasis on individual communication and collaboration. We anticipate our partners will still opt to communicate with us directly rather than through a tool in the dashboard.”
Executives as other MCN’s who preferred to remain anonymous also note that the product has had a similar feature in place and that the volume of requests is anticipated to be in the hundreds or low thousands rather than the tens of thousands. They claim that it will also put healthy pressure back on the MCNs to service creators in the best ways.
So over the course of the next 7 months, until July 2017, the feature will be made available to all partner affilliates. And whether MCN’s are seriously impacted by the ability for creators to more actively request departure from their networks.