Just Put 'em Online

I stayed-in last night and caught-up on some HBO On Demand. In the last episode of Any Given Wednesday With Bill Simmons, with guests Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla, the conversation they had about current trends in media consumption, and where media production is heading, is one of the most interesting talk show segments I’ve seen in a long time. Unfortunately for Any Given Wednesday, it’s also the show’s finale – HBO canned the series after just one season.

They breakdown changes across the media landscape over the past decade, basically since Simmons began Eye of the Sportsguy with ESPN back in 2007, including:

  • That “most people” watch Kimmel’s show on YouTube

  • The younger audience isn’t watching on traditional TV

  • That the technology was so bad when Eye of the Sportsguy launched that Kimmel (as a guest on the show then) had to actually call-in from a phone in the driveway because the set-up was so limited despite being an ESPN production

  • Now, you can record more easily (and probably with better quality) at home on your iPhone

... these echo the musings of YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki, in her recent editorial column in The Economist’s 2017 “year ahead” issue. She cites:

  • Over the past five years, traditional TV time among 25- to 34-year-old Americans has fallen by over 25% – and for the younger end of the Millennial generation it’s even steeper, a decline of 37%

  • In 2Q 2016 alone, over 800,000 Americans cut their TV cable service

  • Despite these changes, “people are watching more video than ever – over six hours a day in 2016 compared with five hours in 2011”

  • This figure blows my mind, though Wojcicki cites Activate, a media consultancy

  • In a 2015 Variety magazine survey of American teens, eight of the top 10 “favorite celebrities” were YouTube stars

  • Wojcicki continues, “[these YouTube stars] do not just appear in their videos; they also produce, direct, edit and market them”

And so on – but back to the show…

Simmons, Kimmel and Carolla dig into falling costs of production, and the effectively zero barriers to entry across a variety of media. As Simmons claims, “[the barrier to entry re: Podcasts] is literally zero… you just put ‘em online.” And Carolla continues, “now that everyone can do a podcast, it’s essentially like music, where anyone can record now… when we were kids, like if you had a CD – if someone made a CD – that was a big deal… now we’ve opened it up, and it’s going to be a competition just to see whose voice and whose ideas people want to hear more than the next.”

And it’s true.

You can look at Casey Neistat’s rise on YouTube, from producing guerrilla videos back in the early 2000s to CNN’s recent buy-out of his startup media company for $25 million – or look at the increasingly easy means of self-publishing writing, from mainstream sites such as Amazon to niche platforms such as patreon – or look at Chance the Rapper, an independent artist who scored a top 10 Billboard album in 2016 by putting it online himself. More and more often, content creators no longer need to audition or seek permission from large production outfits or publishing firms – they can simply put their content up on the internet and see what happens. We’re entering a proper Field of Dreams era of modern media: if you build it, they will come.

All of this is fascinating, and I’m excited to see where these changes take us even just five years from now, but there are scary elements at play here, too. Don’t forget: Clinton massively outspent Trump’s campaign and still lost, in no small part because Trump better-harnessed social media and deftly exploited modern media’s non-stop 24-hour editorialized news entertainment machine (for lack of a better term).

Who needs a ground game and a huge TV ad spend budget when you’ve got Twitter and ten tiny fingers?

Also, just this guy: TheReportOfTheWeek

The Basics

I'm a lifelong learner, and I enjoy thinking about and discussing markets, business ideas and economics. 

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