Maker Studios is in the process of acquiring Blip Networks, according to AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka, who reported Wednesday morning that the cash and stock deal is expected to close next month. The Blip staff was informed of the sale this morning, Kafka says. Maker Studios declined to comment for this article, and a Blip spokesperson didn’t reply to a request for comment.
The deal comes just two months after reports surfaced that Maker Studios was looking for alternatives to distributing videos on YouTube. Maker is what people in the YouTube world like to call a multi-channel network — a company that bundles ad sales and marketing for a number of channels on YouTube. Maker’s talent, which include YouTube stars like the Gregory Brothers, Shay Carl and Toby Turner, clocks more than four billion video views per month across the company’s channels, which together have amassed more than 260 million subscribers.
But in June, talk surfaced that Maker was looking to build its own video site in an attempt to distribute and monetize some of its videos outside of YouTube. The idea behind this isn’t unprecedented: Some of YouTube’s biggest stars have in recent months started to embrace additional outlets to diversify their income streams, and possibly strike better deals with advertisers. One example is Freddy Wong, whose show Video Game High School is distributed on YouTube as well as on his own site.
It’s unlikely that Maker will move its assets completely off YouTube, but the company may be looking to build stronger brands away from the site and strike specific deals with advertisers around some of its shows. Blip could be a good partner for that: After debuting as a somewhat generic YouTube alternative, the site has undergone a radical transformation over the last few months, downsizing from 900,000 accounts to a mere 4,000 serialized shows that it deemed professional enough for a cable-TV-like online video experience.
Blip CEO Kelly Day, who is reportedly leaving the company when the deal closes, told me earlier this year that the company planned to launch separate content verticals, with sites dedicated to topics like gold and cooking. With Maker at the helm, those plans may change, but Blip’s relationship with YouTube may be a blueprint for things to come.
Blip had launched its own YouTube channel last year, and was at the same time looking to give some YouTube stars outlets outside of Google’s reach. Day described the fact that some content creators were unhappy about YouTube as a chance for Blip to grow when I talked to her a few months ago: “It is a good opportunity for us to bring on some new partners.” Those words took on a whole new meaning with Wednesday’s news.