Original Web content is getting hot. Companies are scooping up the latest properties or looking to get in on the competition. And it’s about to get even more competitive now that Google has officially joined. Gaming network Machinima broke the silence yesterday by officially announcing that it has raised $35 million, lead by Google and investors including Redpoint Ventures and MK Capital.
So what is significant about this financing round? First, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Google has decided to finance Machinima. After all, YouTube is a Google property, and technically Google has already financed Machinima through YouTube – Machinima was among the recipients of YouTube’s $100 million Original Content Initiative, and more recently, of the $200 million to aid in the marketing of the existing 100 channels.
We can make one deduction. While Machinima has consistently topped the Comscore U.S. Online Video Ranking chart as among the most-viewed channels (third most viewed in April with over 23 million unique viewers), mainstream media outlets have been unsure about the value or cultural impact of Web TV. Outside of the Tubefilters, tech blogs and occasional celebrity blogs, coverage of Web TV shows in the Reuters and CNNs of this world has been sparse.
There has yet to be the crossover that has made YouTube a legitimate platform to be taken seriously, as Justin Bieber and Karmin had done for YouTube’s authority in the music industry. But Machinima is betting on its Halo: Forward Unto Dawn Web series, with the pending launch of Halo 4, to open the floodgates on regular Web TV coverage, sparked by mass interest.
What’s important here for Google is that Machinima, although in third place views, beats out its competitors with the engagement metric of an astounding 65 minutes per viewer. It’s a number that blows out its competition. Vevo, the most-viewed channel in April, comes in second with 56.7 minutes spent per viewer.
For Google, higher engagement equates to an increase in value for its YouTube-based original content properties, but more importantly it brings in more advertising dollars.
Google’s move, for the other 99 channels and properties within the YouTube Original Content channels, could be cause for envy. The likelihood that many of these channels will continue to exist next year, like terrestrial TV, is slim, but one thing is certain. Machinima is the one property that Google and YouTube will put its full support behind.
Surprisingly, when attempting to access YouTube’s complete list of original channels, the page suspiciously appears to have been taken down preceding the Machinima funding announcement.