Machinima Inc., an online video company targeting gamers, is already the most watched entertainment channel on YouTube. Now, thanks to a $35 million investment announced last week, the L.A. company is planning to stretch out by creating game-themed series for other platforms and international markets.
YouTube parent Google Inc. was the biggest investor; Redpoint Ventures and MK Capital, both already investors, upped their stakes in this latest funding round – the largest to date for the 10-year-old company.
Machinima has brought original programming based on video games to YouTube in a big way. The company has produced wildly popular gaming-themed programs such as “Mortal Kombat Legacy” and also original live-action shows such as “Bite Me,” a zombie apocalypse series. Gaming fans are eagerly awaiting Machinima’s next YouTube show, “Halo: Forward Unto Dawn,” based on the “Halo” game series. Machinima has generated more than 1.6 billion views on YouTube, primarily among the 18-34 male demographic.
With these huge viewer numbers, Machinima has attracted a wide range of advertisers, including Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures, Chrysler Inc.’s Jeep brand and several gaming companies.
Also last week, Machinima announced a deal with Agoura Hills-based THQ Inc. to host a gaming tournament.
Allen DeBevoise, Machinima’s chief executive, said the new funding will allow the company to expand its roster of original shows. But it will also allow the company to move beyond YouTube to mobile devices and overseas markets.
“Machinima is well-positioned to make the next evolutionary step in the world of multichannel video programming and distribution by expanding into original content, international territories, and new platforms and devices,” DeBevoise said.
Hundreds of other online original content companies are also trying to make that jump, but one industry analyst said Machinima’s position as the largest entertainment channel on YouTube places it in an enviable position.
“All these companies are trying to find and identify territories,” said Drew Baldwin, founder of TubeFilter.com, an L.A. company that produces a kind of TV Guide for YouTube.
Although the investment by Google is seen as an incentive for Machinima to keep its programming on YouTube and the rest of the Google empire, Machinima could also use the money to get its programming on other platforms.
Baldwin said Machinima can now pursue deals to get its content on Apple Inc.’s iPads and iPhones, Google’s Android platform and on devices of wireless carriers such as Verizon Communications Inc. Machinima can also use the money to penetrate markets in Japan, Europe and possibly China.
For the first time, Baldwin said, an online content company has the chance to produce a breakout program, one that reaches beyond a small niche audience.
“With this funding, Machinima now has the chance to do something really big, to set itself way apart from the pack,” Baldwin said.
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