Exploring Alternatives to Multichannel Networks

By Rob Ciampa, Theresa Moore, John Carucci, Stan Muller, Adam Wescott

There’s strength in numbers — or so the saying goes. This can be helpful when it comes to managing your YouTube channel.It’s this kind of thinking that led to the establishment of multichannel networks (commonly referred to by the acronym MCNs) on YouTube. MCNs are essentially partnering agreements that independent creators enter into with larger organizations as a way to outsource (for a cut of the action) tasks associated with cross-promotion, partner management, digital rights management, monetization, and audience development.

The thought is, as you grow your YouTube channel, that you may encounter limitations that you, as an independent creator, aren’t in a position to comfortably overcome. Can’t fit an ad sales team in your mother’s basement? Ask an MCN to help out. Not able to constantly monitor what’s what on YouTube so that you always know when YouTube rolls out new functionality? Have an MCN keep its ear to the ground for you. Collectively, these MCNs grab YouTube’s attention and create a bigger business, consisting of ad revenue, brand opportunities, and more.

MCNs strike many people as a great deal, but for some, being an independent creator is what YouTube is all about. You have the freedom to create the content you want, when you want to. By signing your channel to an MCN or partnering with other ancillary companies, you may be giving up this freedom.

MCNs aren’t for everyone. Some of YouTube’s most successful channels are run independently, with no alliance to a network. If that sounds like you, check out a few opportunities for growing your channel that don’t involve joining a multichannel network.

Benefitting from the YouTube Creator Program

YouTube’s Creator Hub offers programs and tools for keeping up with the latest news and information directly from YouTube. Via this hub, channel creators can participate in events, collaborations, and educational programs. It even has video series from top YouTube creators sharing their experiences and advice for using the platform. Additionally, YouTube has opened YouTube Spaces across the globe — including studios in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Tokyo. These spaces provide creators with locations and physical production resources for generating original content.

Working with traditional entertainment systems

There’s lot of buzz these days around YouTube MCNs, but more traditional entertainment players are also building business around YouTube. Film studios, media companies, publishers, talent agencies, and more may be interested in partnering with you and your YouTube channel. For example, renowned filmmakers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer have launched the digital initiative NewForm, whereas magazine publisher Condé Nast is actively developing and producing original content in partnership with YouTube talent, and Hollywood talent agency UTA is actively signing creators.

Do your research and keep up with the latest industry news to find out which companies are doing what. Industry trade outlets like AdWeek, Variety, Video Ink, Tubefilter, and NewMediaRockstars track and report most business announcements related to YouTube.

Blazing a trail as an independent creator

Keep in mind that most of what MCNs can offer are things you can achieve on your own, given a sufficient investment of blood, sweat, and tears. You can increase your production, try collaborations, run a paid media campaign, reach out to the press, do viewer meet-ups, and more. If a multichannel network partnership isn’t for you, be the lone wolf who one day leads the pack!