Echoing a similar deal between Google and Viacom prior to the former’s acquisition of YouTube, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane and Disney Channel actress Raven-Symone are to create original web video content, which Google will then distribute to target demographics via its AdSense contextual advertising network.
MacFarlane will create around 50 animated shorts, while Symone will craft a series of ‘how to’ videos targeted at teens and tweens. The US $10 million bill for content creation is being underwritten by Media Rights Capital (MRC), the film financing vehicle in which ad group WPP, AT&T and Goldman Sachs have all taken stakes. Revenues from the ads embedded in each film will be split between MRC and Google.
MRC’s backers have given it a warchest of US $400 million per year — enough to finance 10 indie movies, five or six TV series and 10 to 20 broadband video series. The company has built its business on acquiring rights bundles where traditional studios have feared to tread; for example, it snapped up non English and Spanish-speaking territory rights seven-times Oscar-nominated Babel, which achieved $114 million in box office takings, 70% of which was from non-U.S. markets.
Variety is heralding the MRC/Google deal as one which throws open the doors to mass distribution for indie-produced content, while allowing each respective party to concentrate on the bits of the business they’re best at. In a further sign that online video distribution has passed the tipping point, the same report quotes MRC digital president Dan Goodman: “We’re looking at this as a business-model, not as a pilot.”