A Change in Mainstream Media

A boring Super Bowl taught me two things

February 4, 2019

Who else watched the Super Bowl last night? Was anyone else bored to death? I felt like last night showed me two things, traditional media is dying and mass marketing is missing its mark. Now I get that a football game without a touchdown until the last 7 minutes of the game is the source of the pain that was watching last night, but I'm not sure if that's all of it. I've found this season as a whole being something entirely hard to follow. Maybe that's just because I am New York Giants fan and they've had a couple horrible seasons, or maybe it's something more.

Ever since I started watching my favorite Viners transition into vlogging on YouTube, I've become hooked on a new form of media. A few years ago I cut the cord and stopped paying for cable, mainly due to the cost. I experimented with the idea that I could entertain myself in other ways and after a few months I didn't even notice it was missing. YouTube, Netflix and HBO had all the content I needed, when I needed it. I didn't have to sit through commercials and I didn't have to wait until my show was on. Plus the content was of a higher quality. No censored bullshit to please a younger audience. I could watch something tailored to my interests.

Okay, obviously this isn't news or something that's happened recently. But, the only time I missed having cable was when the game was on, last night for example. It's a hassle and rather expensive compared to other forms of media. After experiencing year after year of no commercials and quicker, more engaging content, sitting through a four hour event felt like nails on the chalkboard. The only reason I pushed through to watch it all was just so I didn't miss anything. The Super Bowl is a social event, and I felt this pressure to be relevant and included in the conversation.

This speaks to me on multiple levels. Firstly, the Nation Football League has developed a social experience around their organization. They can output crappy content (like the game we watched last night) and people will still watch every second out of fear of missing out. How can this principle be applied to other businesses and organizations?

Secondly, how sustainable is this? Will new generations find this sort of content relevant? Will they care? I felt like I had to jump through so many hoops to watch the game when other more exciting forms of content were more readily available. Will e-sports become the new Super Bowl? Would new generations rather watch Ninja play Fortnite in a tournament than watch Tom Brady make history being the only person to win his 6th championship ring? I think the answer to that might be Fortnite. And if so, how does that change things for us as consumers?

Also, mass-marketing (in its traditional sense) felt so inauthentic last night. I used to love Super Bowl commercials. They were a talking point at school the next day, but last night they just felt stale (minus a few exceptions). I'm so used to influencer marketing and targeted ads that trying to capture me through a generic 30 second television commercial feels like a waste of money and a waste of my time. No, I don't care about lady's body lotion, put the game back on. And don't even get me started about brands trying to take a political stance to sell products.

I think this changes the landscape for a lot of things that we've grown up being accustomed to and I actually find that really exciting. I predict that box office movies are going to become extinct, and television, commercials and even traditional sports are going to need to make some drastic changes to stay relevant. Digital content is key and I predict that slowly but surely everyone is going to make a move onto a platform like YouTube for digestable content. 

YouTube feels authentic to me, way more than reality tv ever made me feel. I feel connected with the content creators I watch and in a creepy way I feel like I actually know them as a person. I think this makes room for a lot of free, authentic content. It's not made by a studio head, it's made by creatives and individuals and the success of the content is based soley on the quality of the content. If it's bad content, nobody will see it and support it. It's natural selection in the form of digital content.

I think YouTube and YouTubers have a sort of stigma attached to it. Like it's just a bunch of amateurs making crappy content, and yes there's a sort of truth behind that, but I think it's also a sleeping giant that's about to disrupt large industries.

But I think that's a good thing. For consumers that means better content. And for content creators like myself, it might be the right time and place to start building an audience.

(wal•do) — Person
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