One of the largest and longest-running YouTube multi-channel networks has seemingly folded up. Machinima seemingly deleted their entire video library over this past week, across almost all of their major channels. The change was noticed by multiple personalities and creators across the network, which was followed understandably by panic and confusion.
So for those who somehow don’t know, Machinima was one of the early pioneers of creative companies that operated primarily on YouTube as a platform. Machinima, which was founded in 2000 and launched its official YouTube channel in 2006, rocketed in popularity to more than 12 million subscribers. Growing from this major success over the years, Machinima expanded into a variety of affiliated channels, including the likes of Machinima Happy Hour and Machinima Trailer Vault and many other entities.
The last couple of years have been very rough on not just Machinima, but all creators on YouTube. These years were characterized by many publicized scandals involving Mutli-Channel Networks, or MCNs, breaching copyright laws, partnering channels that violated YouTube Terms of Service agreements, and evenly opening promoting violent or bigoted content. These problems culminated in a massive decrease in advertising revenue as advertisers fled YouTube entirely in droves.
Throughout the course of these issues, many creators began finding alternative revenue sources which further hurt MCNs and their credibility. Machinima remained somewhat stable financially, but the years of scandals had seriously affected both their individual public reputation and the general perception of MCNs. Despite these mounting problems, and several changes in management, the company soldiered on.
Cut to last week, when it was surprisingly announced that Machinima had agreed to a sale to Fullscreen Media. Fullscreen Media operates as a subsidiary of Otter Media, which in turn is a subsidiary of AT&T’s WarnerMedia. For context, Fullscreen has managed to snap up some pretty major players in the YouTube scene. Roosterteeth, the company behind RedvsBlue, was acquired in 2014 for example.
It seemed like everything was OK, until this past weekend. Otter Media, the managing parent company of the Machinima properties seemingly deleted the entire catalogue of content, setting all of the videos on the various related channels to private. Predictably, the thousands of creators who had contributed content to these channels were a bit miffed, as were many of their fans.
Speaking of the incident, a representative for the company provided the following statement to the Verge:
“In the meantime the Machinima network of creator channels continues to showcase the talents of the network,” the representative said. “As part of this focus on new content, we have pivoted from distributing content on a handful of legacy operated channels.”
In a statement to Kotaku, owners Otter Media said: “We are focused on creating new content with the Machinima team, which will be distributed on new channels to be announced in the coming months.
In the meantime the Machinima network of creator channels continues to showcase the talents of the network. As part of this focus on new content, we have pivoted from distributing content on a handful of legacy operated channels.”
All in all, things like this happen, especially with companies that become less relevant over time. And Machninima was definitely a brand which had fallen from prominence. As more creators went independent and new companies arose and offered better services, this was bound to happen. Shame that it was so sudden though.