Did Google Just Become a Content Creator?

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For years, Google executives have repeated the same talking point: “We are not interested in owning or creating content.” But according to The Wall Street Journal, those days may be over. Google is closing in on a deal to acquire Next New Networks, an online video site that creates original webisodes on food, pop culture and politics. The company is also behind the popular web series Auto-Tune the News.

By and large, this would take Google into "uncharted territory" notes Fortune's Seth Weintraub. Until now, the search giant has preferred only to curate, organize and license content. It's still too soon to say if this heralds a major shift in direction for Google. As the Journal story notes, Next New Networks is likely a tiny purchase because its financials are in rough shape.

But is it a smart acquisition? Liz Shannon Miller at GigaOm gives it the thumbs up:

What Next New brings to the table... is years of experience in developing content for web audiences — experience they could potentially bring to creators beyond its previously defined channels.

Last month, Google Director of Product Development defined YouTube not as a media company, but as “a media catalyst,” one that he said wanted to “see content getting created, help it find the largest audience possible and make the content creators lots of money so they can reinvest in their vision.” When it comes to the first two goals, Next New has proven success — and maybe YouTube can make up the difference.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.