Either during keynote addresses at industry conferences or through enlightening conversations I’ve been a part of, new media visionaries Fred Seibert, Jim Louderback, and Jeff Jarvis have all claimed their kids don’t know (or at least don’t fully realize) the difference between new media organizations (like NextNewNetworks, Revision3, and Blip.tv) and traditional television networks (like CBS, NBC, ABC, and MTV).
To the youngins, they’re all online video entertainment destinations, just with different URLs.
I haven’t seen any official pre-teen poling data to back up the anecdotal evidence, and I’m pretty sure the stories were at least slightly embellished for crowd/conversation effect. But if the notion that kids today don’t know the difference between a broadcast TV network and an online video network seems at all far-fetched, in a very short while it won’t be. Already, the hours of time children spend in front of their computer screens and video game consoles is encroaching upon their TV-watching time. Other data shows that kids these days is the democgraphic most comfrotable with watching online video.
That’s why developments like Fred’s cameo on Nickelodeon’s iCarly and Raven Symone’s new web series make so much sense. And why more online content creators should seriously consider the tween market.
If some attractive lady at a bar asks me, “What do you do?” I can’t answer with “I’m the editor of a kick a$$ online publication that covers developments on the content side of the online entertainment industry and reviews web series with a critical eye,” because she won’t know wtf I’m talking to them about. I first have to give her a primer on the nascent space of web television.
When a 10 year-old at my cousin’s b-day party asks me the same question, the kid doesn’t need the background info.
iCarly is a TV series for 8 – 12 year-olds broadcast on Nickelodeon about a girl who was her own popular web show. Keep Your Eyes Open is a play for 8 – 12 year-olds about a girl who has her own popular web show. These entertainment products work because the audience is familiar with the subject matter. Children don’t need any amount of evangelizing or convincing to watch “silly web shows.” They do it on their own.
But so far, only a limited number of new media producers (including the people behind Wubbcast, They Might be Giants, Ghost Town, Fred, and now Raven and the just-launched Daily Motion kids’ portal) have tried to capitalize on the multi-billion dollar tween market.
That means there’s an opportunity for web series producers who either A) like making children-oriented programming, B) like creating content for an under-developed, lucrative marketplace replete with potential advertisers, or C) like doing both.
It takes a lot of time and energy to convince an audience to turn away from their TVs and towards their computers. Why not create programming for a demo that doesn’t notice the difference?