Google-backed Machinima has become the latest internet company to try to launch a TV-like online video network, and has begun talks with Hollywood studios to produce full-length programmes or possibly become investors, several sources said.
Machinima, which caters mainly to so-called fanboys or 18- to-34-year-old men whose interests often include videogames and comics, wants to raise US$80 million to create an online video subscription service, according to two executives with knowledge of the situation.
Machinima has held talks with potential partners or investors including Warner Brothers studio and Paramount Pictures, said three people with knowledge of the meetings.
The two studios already make shorter videos for the website. Warner makes an 8-to-12-minute live-action series based on the videogame Mortal Kombat. Paramount is making a show based on the Los Angeles black market for stolen cars, called Chop Shop.
Representatives of Warner Brothers and Paramount declined to confirm the talks.
Machinima, a major fixture on YouTube that also runs its own advertising-supported website, confirmed it intends to start an online video service but not the amount of financing it sought or the studios it contacted.
"The fanboy viewer is crazy, engaged and ravenous," Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise said.
"We intend to raise capital to be a company in the spirit of HBO and AMC, but in an over-the-top world," he said. "Over-the-top" refers to viewers who watch TV shows online, bypassing traditional cable or satellite services.