By Sahil Patel
Traditional media companies are really digging the multi-channel networks on YouTube. So much so that the likes of Time Warner, Comcast, and RTL Group, among others, have placed bets on an MCN business. Here’s another one: DanceOn, a YouTube channel and MCN businesses focusing on dance videos, has raised $4 million in a Series A round led by AMC Networks.
What does AMC Networks, known for owning and operating AMC, Sundance Channel, IFC, and WE tv, want with DanceOn? Couldn’t tell you. DanceOn is most well-known online for its flagship reality series “Dance Showdown,” which pairs YouTube stars with choreographers as they compete to win a cash prize. It’s similar in style to shows like “Dancing with the Stars,” which airs on ABC, which is in no way affiliated with AMC. AMC Networks does own the female-centric WE tv, a programmer of a lot of reality shows. There could be something there, though that would be pure speculation on my part.
AMC Networks is joined in the Series A round by fellow lead investor Plus Capital. Other investors include entertainment executives like Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise* (who is a returning investor), Machinima’s EVP of network programming Aaron DeBevoise, former News Corp. digital chief Jon Miller, MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan, Roku’s Matthew Anderson, and ZEFR’s Rich Raddon. Startup accelerator Launchpad LA and Klass Capital Fund also participated in the round, as did Daniel Leff, founder and managing partner of Luminari Capital.
What will the Series A round go toward? I imagine scaling the MCN business, which has topped 1.2 billion views across its network. DanceOn isn’t fully clear in the announcement with respect to where the $4 million will go — though CEO Amanda Taylor hints at it in her statement:
“Dance entertainment is not only exponentially scalable and universal but also aspirational for audiences of all ages. DanceOn is the premiere digital platform for audiences to upload, share and enjoy dance and artistic content. Bringing investors into the fold who recognize that global potential enables us to continue innovating as the best platform for dance and music entertainment.”
Also of note, in addition to the Series A round, DanceOn revealed that Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of “So You Think You Can Dance” has joined its board of directors.
DanceOn was founded in the fall of 2010 by Taylor, in partnership with Madonna, Guy Oseary, and Allen DeBevoise.
Here’s Madonna in an episode of DanceOn’s other major web series, “The Edge,” which profiles major music stars and the dancers who, er, dance with them.
* Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise, who invests in pretty much every online video company you’ve heard of, is also an investor in VideoInk.