Gen Z persists as HBO resists

Are teen-focused platforms like Snapchat, Twitch and Buzzfeed really disrupting major players like HBO? Not if they can help it, says MIPBlog editor James Martin.

Written by James Martin (MIP Blog)

Snapchat means business. The ephemeral photo and video messaging platform even abandoned its usual ‘who cares?’ approach to present its new “3V” video advertising offering in what Techcrunch called a “zero-fun infomercial”. Video ads are to be delivered in between snaps, supposedly in an unobtrusive manner.

Yet there could be little joking about the key figure dropped by CEO Evan Spiegel in that video. Snapchat now racks up no fewer than 2 billion video views per day. And as Digiday revealed, 1.82 million of those daily views are for Cosmopolitan’s “Discover” Snapchat channel.

Still not convinced? Consider the fact that Snapchat hired former Fox Comedy executive Marcus Wiley to head the program planning and development of its Snap Channel section. Maybe it’s time to start taking the platform’s 100 million active daily users seriously.

The fight for video traffic

Of course, Snapchat is not the only multimillion user base-level disruption heading TV’s way. Twitch, the video game streaming outlet which had 55 million users when Amazon acquired it last year, has just announced a YouTube-style partner program for its most successful broadcasters, reports Tubefilter. Is this move capable of creating the next generation of online video stars?

Perhaps more preoccupying for the ‘traditional’ TV industry is the continued growth of Popcorn Time, the peer-to-peer streaming platform known as “Netflix for pirates”. Its iOS app has now been downloaded over a million times, reports VentureBeat, despite the fact that it’s not officially approved by Apple and as such requires a long-winded sideloading process to install. Over a million people have decided the end user experience is clearly worth the hassle.

Not forgetting Buzzfeed of course: another relatively new player which, like Snapchat, is currently going from strength to strength, notably thanks to its multi-platform strategy. With video views now fragmenting across multiple platforms—not just YouTube—Tubular Labs decided to look at views on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine, reports VideoInk. Not only does BuzzFeedVideo top out this new chart, but its total views are double those of FunToyzCollector, YouTube’s biggest creator.

Yet YouTube execs should not lose sleep for now: generation Z still watches more than 2 hours of the platform’s content per day, according to a millennials-focused report by JWT. Even more strikingly, “36% of survey respondents (aged 12 to 19) watch four or more hours of YouTube content daily, compared to 34% who spend four or more hours watching television.” Food for thought…

TV majors and new media trends

How is TV heavyweight HBO adapting to these ongoing ground shifts? A fascinating and must-read feature by The Hollywood Reporter notably explains how the network’s top execs denied that its HBO Now cord-cutting service was in development when, in fact, it was.

“This is the single boldest decision that anybody in the existing cable-satellite ecosystem of programmers has ever made,” says BTIG media analyst Rich Greenfield. “There is no doubt that [HBO CEO] Richard [Plepler]’s partners [the cable companies] didn’t want him to do it. And he did it anyway.”

While we see a shift toward the adoption of new media trends, not all of them are here to stay. According to THR, a “backlash is brewing against binge TV,” with Orange is the New Black’s showrunner Jenji Kohan admitting this: “I miss having people on the same page. I do miss being able to go online and have the conversation the day after.”

Quite a big deal from the creator of one of Netflix’s biggest series. But she admits that “it’s kind of a waste of time to lament that because that’s not the way our show comes.”

Has the time come to accept the new status quo…?

This article is published here as part of an editorial partnership between CMF Trends and MIP Blog. More on this and other key industry trends at MIPCOM and MIPJunior from October 3 to 8 in Cannes.

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