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multi-channel network (MCN)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A multi-channel network (MCN) is a company or entity that works with multiple channels and content creators, consulting or assisting towards success on streaming video platforms such as YouTube. MCNs are unaffiliated with the platform owner or directly with the channel itself.

Originally MCNs were a YouTube development. Channel owners would sign a contract with and MCN and enter the MCN into the system that tied users into ad revenue and the MCN would receive a cut of revenues. In exchange for a percentage of ad revenues generated by a channel, an MCN gives access to resources and knowledge or uses contacts to improve their client channels' video production quality or revenue.

Benefits of working with an MCN include:

  • Use of quality video and publishing tools.
  • Better value on advertising revenue.
  • Marketing and promotion.
  • Access to production equipment and editing facilities.
  • Contacts in traditional media and celebrities.
  • Cover song and background music licenses negotiated on copyrighted music.
  • Live events and merchandise handling.

Since the development of MCNs some of the more successful digital media companies have been acquired. AwesomenessTV, for example, was acquired by Dreamworks Animation for $15 million and Maker Studios by Disney for $500 million. As other platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter etc. gain importance MCNs have become more like cross platform digital media companies.

This was last updated in March 2018

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