The world of online video has come a long way in the last couple of years. Google’s YouTube might still be the page views leader when it comes to online video viewing, but sites like Hulu, iTunes, and Netflix have embraced a different business model that YouTube is finally trying to catch up with.

This week, YouTube acquired Next New Networks, a company that produces original programming and helps people and entities that create video find distribution and make money. Like Hulu and Netflix, the cash cow for YouTube that will come from the Next New Networks acquisition won’t come from YouTube producing its own original content but rather from YouTube partners who create long-form original content for YouTube publishing and distribution. In other words, YouTube will provide the platform but others will provide the content.

As The New York Times reports, YouTube is “creating a new program called YouTube Next that will help the video makers with whom YouTube shares ad revenue to produce more professional content by giving them grants and training.”

There is no doubt that online video consumption is growing and more people are turning to the web to consume long-form video content every day. YouTube reportedly paid less than $50 million for Next New Networks, and key players are being hired to jump start YouTube Next and content acquisition, including a former executive from Paramount.

Bottom-line, it’s great to see YouTube making an effort to differentiate authoritative online video content from less professional user generated content. We’ll have to wait and see how successful YouTube ultimately is with the Next New Networks acquisition.

What do you think? Was acquiring Next New Networks a good investment or a poor investment for YouTube and Google? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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