A few years ago I was on a panel about the impact of AI on production at the annual HPA conference, and was surprised when a fellow panelist said that most of the media consumed by his teenage children was produced by their peers. As I’m not exposed to teenage behavior i had no idea.
Then yesterday my Chiropractor tells me that he watches mostly YouTube video instead of conventional TV. He is most definitely not a teenager! I’m also watching more YouTube than previously, and a lot of on-demand programming, but we rarely watch live TV.
So when I saw an article at Variety – User-Generated Content Represents 39% of Time Spent With Media: Study – with that worrying headline, it rang true. The report found that overall:
… user-created content accounts for 39% of weekly media hours consumed by Americans vs. 61% for traditional media.
In an era of more high quality production than ever before, thanks to the streamers, losing nearly 40% of the eyeballs to user generated content should be a concern.
Unsurprisingly the percentage changed with age group. Teens 13-17 56% of time devoted to UGC, and just 22% for those 55 and older.
Within this context Apple’s focus on enabling “everyone” to tell their stories in videos makes sense. At least Apple can profit from that market by selling them the tools of creation, whereas this shift seems to leave most of us out of the picture, if it continues.
Although the article does note that about 20 million US consumers over 13 are monetizing their UGC in some way. With an average of $768 a month no-one’s getting rich, although the way averages work, some are most definitely making more.
The final disturbing note is that only 18% of watching hours were spent watching traditional TV. At 20% the streamers have already won.
The production industries have been constantly changing. The landscape has been broadening from Broadcast only. Cable took until Telecommunications Act of 1996 until it added significantly to production, but there’s a direct line from there to the (now) many streaming only options that are adding production capacity around the world.
The changes will keep coming, as they always have, but the lesson is that there will always be revenue opportunities, if you keep an open mind. The revenue stream may not be as obvious as advertising, which is still the dominant model, but – like almost every famous performing artist – many make money from merchandise, often associated with the content of their YouTube channel.
Be aware of change and be vigilant to find the opportunity.
I’ve been reminded that the effect of this shift in audience on production is compounded by the effects of COVID19 across the board, and specifically in delayed or cancelled production.