“We decided to offer Weirdy Rhymes for distribution on Aardman’s new Youtube channel, because we believe in the Aardman family,” Percival said in a statement. “Terry Brain worked with Aardman for many years and would be proud to have his work represented by them.”
Aardman says that ten producers are already on board, including a new series from Rich Webber (Purple & Brown, DC Nation), and original series and shorts from directors Dan Bins and Ian Pinder, Dave McKenna, Joe Wood and Ollie Magee, Jane Davies, and Sam Morrison.
The channel will also re-release older Aardman projects like Pib & Pog (Peter Peake) and Big Jeff (Tom Parkinson).
The Aardboiled website states that the channel will soon begin accepting submissions from the public. It’s a standard revenue-sharing deal in which Aardman collects revenue from the Youtube channel and then shares a percentage with creators.
Now for the bitter pill: Aardboiled is fine as a brand-building exercise for Aardman, but the idea of aggregating content on a Youtube channel has been done over and over again by studios and companies. The marketplace has been saturated with such channels over the last decade, each promising to build creators’ profiles on Youtube and none have proven to be a big success.
Companies like Awesomeness TV, Maker Studios, and Frederator pursued the grander version of Aardman’s concept – the Youtube “multi-channel network” (MCN) – and that model too is falling apart at the seams, despite tens of millions in venture capital and corporate investment.
The benefits of adding a middleman like Aardman into the Youtube revenue game is questionable at best, especially as Google-owned Youtube takes 45% of the revenue itself. Aardman claims its combined 17 Youtube channels receive 25 million average monthly views, or less than 1.5 million monthly views per channel. Even if the Aardboiled revenue wasn’t split among dozens of creators, a couple million monthly views on a channel is a non-starter.
But revenue isn’t the goal, Aardman suggests on their website: “The chief purpose of AardBoiled is to develop new ideas, get exciting new content in front of an appreciative audience, and to build a sustainable model for future development.”
Those goals unfortunately cannot be met by simply starting a Youtube channel that licenses existing content, a service provided by dozens of others, not to mention something that any producer can do on their own. Independent creators/producers need other more urgent kinds of support, such as funding to actually create content (channels like Turner Broadcasting’s Super Deluxe invest in the creation of original content rather than just license) and talent management/repping to help up-and-coming talents negotiate better deals with advertising clients and film distributors.
A more fundamental issue may be that a channel offering broad-based animated comedy has always been a tough sell on Youtube. Channels that focus on specific niches or genres of content have a greater opportunity to break out in the fractured online video environment.
Take, for example, Kurzgesagt, a slick series of animated education videos with a subscriber base of almost 5 million people and an average of 4.4 million views per video, as well as an impressive 9,500+ Patreon supporters. Compare to the main Aardman Youtube page, with just 56,000 subscribers and 27+ million views, not exactly a ringing endorsement of the company’s savviness about promoting itself online.
The prestige of being associated with a famous studio like Aardman will certainly be enough to convince some creators to submit their work, and the company has its heart in the right place, but Aardboiled faces headwinds that may prove difficult to overcome.