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Report: YouTube wants to buy Next New Networks

Google wants the company's production know-how, according to a story in The New York Times. Does this mean Google is becoming a content company?

YouTube has plans to acquire Next New Networks, a Web video production company known for producing video hits online, according to a report in The New York Times.

The Times says the deal is not finalized and the companies are still in talks. Next New Networks is the home of such Web video franchises as "Obama Girl" and the people who brought us the clip "The Bed Intruder Song."

The Times reported that Google is most interested in Next New Networks' video-production abilities. The two most popular YouTube videos the past year came from Next New Networks, according to the Times report: "Bed Intruder Song" and "The Key of Awesome."

Representatives from both companies were not immediately available for comment.

If the acquisition is completed, it would be the latest signal that Google is shifting its thinking on content. In years past, Google managers were known for telling counterparts at the Hollywood film studios and large record companies that Google didn't want to become a content creator.

They believed there was more value in the digital age to aggregating content than producing it.

But in recent months, TV shows, films, and music have become more important to feeding some of Google's initiatives, including Google TV and the upcoming Google music service. The top broadcast networks have blocked access to Google TV and Google is also trying to acquire more professionally made content for YouTube's video-rental service.

Google is also negotiating with the top labels about launching a streaming-music service.

Perhaps the most telling sign of Google's need for content came two weeks ago, when the search engine agreed to step up antipiracy efforts. Google managers agreed to remove AdSense partners who traffic in pirated content. Google also acquired a company that specializes in protecting Web video.

More to come