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It’s Official: YouTube Buys Next New Networks

YouTube (s GOOG) finally made its long-rumoured acquisition of Next New Networks official Monday, buying the web production and distribution studio for an undisclosed amount. Next New Networks CEO and co-founder Fred Seibert posted details about the deal on the company’s web site today, saying that it will become a new unit within YouTube:

“Our company will become a core component of YouTube Next, a new team that will focus on supercharging content creator development on YouTube, driving deeper expertise in partner audience development, and incubating new ideas that can be shared with the broader community.”

Next New seems like a good fit to become this kind of content incubator. The studio produced some of the most popular non-music videos on YouTube, clocking more than two billion video views since its inception with hits like Key of Awesome and Auto-Tune the News. It was also the first participant in the YouTube Partner Grants program, which is meant to help content producers finance their shows.

YouTube has long looked at ways to make itself more appealing to semi-professional producers, and these kinds of grants and financing deals could help strengthen its ties to the creative community. New York Magazine recently reported that YouTube is trying to woo “name-brand Hollywood types” onto its site, offering them branded channels and help producing three-minute long shows — which, as our Liz Shannon Miller noted at the time, sounds an awful lot like what Next New Networks has been doing.

Seibel wrote that he will be stepping down from his role to go back into content production. Rumors about a possible acquisition of Next New Networks by YouTube first surfaced in December, and the chatter intensified when an SEC filing showed some typical pre-acquisition financial housecleaning last month.

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