Multichannel Networks and Digital-First Video Content: Growing Audiences Beyond the YouTube Core

Multichannel networks (MCNs) have become a vital link between content creators and video platforms, in particular YouTube. These networks provide creators with production, promotion and marketing services in exchange for a (fairly large) percentage of ad revenue. At the same time, MCNs organize content in a way that video channels can monetize.

The emergence of MCNs that aggregate content from multiple channels for distribution on mainstream video platforms arose from YouTube’s need to monetize short clips. Although YouTube remains the center of the MCN universe, networks are expanding their distribution to social media platforms, which will help those platforms monetize their video content and help creators grow their audiences. For brands, the greater the reach of digital video content originated on MCNs, the greater the opportunities to attach brands to it.
There are differences in how researchers define and measure MCNs, so viewership data varies widely. However, it is clear that the largest MCNs are aggregating tens of thousands of channels and attracting billions of monthly views just on YouTube.
Monetization on MCNs includes ad types found throughout the digital video ecosystem: standard pre-rolls, sponsorships, product endorsements and branded content.
Marketers have clearly embraced MCNs. However, more work needs to be done to convince marketers that digital video platforms offer sufficient data and analytics insights, as well as general return on investment (ROI), to compete with other media.

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