YouTube is in talks to acquire the sprawling web video production group Next New Networks, according to reporting this morning from tech reporter Claire Cain Miller and media reporter Brian Stetler at The New York Times. The deal would represent YouTube's first major move into the creation of its own original video programming.
Four years old next month, Next New Networks represents a wide variety of content producers, the most recently famous being the bizarre autotune remix Bed Intruder Song ("hide your kids, hide your wife"). As with any in-house Google content, questions would asked about the objectivity of the company's video search results if the deal goes through.
YouTube has come so far from its roots as a host for User Generated and pirated content that it only makes sense to start producing its own video content. Next New Networks is venture backed and was co-founded by Herb Scannell, former President of Nickelodeon, among others. The network is not best known for high-brow content, but that dosen't mean it isn't funny (see below, for example). Scannell is now President of BBC America.
Last month, Next New Networks announced a deal with AOL to produce a short daily news clip for AOL.com. The startup also produces a site called $99 Music Videos, which highlights music videos made for that sum or less.
As is the case whenever Google starts producing content in-house, however, the question will be asked whether it will privilege that content in its search results, at the expense of the independent producers who helped make it what it is today.
That's a question that was asked about Google Knols, the company's competitor to Wikipedia and Google Places vs. other local information services, and since YouTube is both the world's 2nd largest search engine and a major component in Google.com search results, it will be a question that people will ask if the company acquires Next New Networks, too.