Original TV content is on the rise. ‘ When I say content, I mean video from YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. And when I say TV, it’s much more than what’s available via broadcast and cable channels. And, more often than not, we’re’ watching that content on computers, tablets, and other handheld devices.
So, as an industry, television is not quite as easy to define as it once was. The number of individuals and media outlets creating original content not targeted for the traditional TV screen has been increasing rapidly. Perhaps you have heard of the VERY popular Lizzie Bennet Diaries,’ a’ modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s’ Pride and Prejudice,’ developed by Hank Green and Bernie Su.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has become an online phenomenon, with viewers of all ages, but it’ definitely has teen appeal. Two tween girls who visit my library every day after school, hop on the computers in the youth area and watch episode after episode of the show. I can’t imagine my library is alone in this trend.
But the internet isn’t the only platform for original content drawing in young viewers. Paid services have started creating their own content unique to their platform. The series’ House of Cards,’ available only to Netflix subscribers, is turning into a successful venture, at least, based on the limited data they have released. Netflix is also going to be airing an all-new season of cult TV hit Arrested Development,’ again available only to subscribers (at least that is my understanding). These original (or re-located, in the case of Arrested Development) shows are becoming a big draw for viewers, particularly the growing number of adults no longer willing to pay for the high cost of cable TV.
Even Yahoo! is getting in on the action with its (ADULT) web series, Burning Love, a parody of The Bachelor. This show gets well-known celebrities to guest star, increasing both the market and prestige attached to Yahoo’s original programming.
When it comes to teens, it is likely their parents who pay for services like Hulu and Netflix. But that doesn’t negate the fact that a teen online television viewing audience is there and will be catered to through’ niche programming which might never had found a place on broadcast networks or even cable. Non-traditional TV and TV viewing experiences are fast becoming the norm as more and more kids grow up with media on devices other than the TV.
If the pop culture phenomenon’ The Lizzie Bennet Diaries‘ is any indication, teen viewers are more than willing to sit on the computer for episode after episode of a show. Teens, like many others, already “watch” their music online and’ Billboard has taken notice, now incorporating YouTube viewership when it comes to determining the top music people are listening to.
This latest generation of programming often encourages teens and other viewers to participate in the experience via social media. An article in this week’s Entertainment Weekly‘ describes the vast social forces behind Pretty Little Liars.’ Teens (or heck, adults!) can do more than sit passively to watch their favorite programs. They can interact with the actors via Twitter, see special videos via Vine, or create their own original homages and upload it to YouTube.’ And for teens interested in film, music, and the arts, these new channels can provide opportunities for them to be more than just the audience,’ to create their own content , one of the real thrills in today’s changing TV landscape.
Original, serialized video content is here to stay, and it will definitely continue to affect the more traditional TV networks. Expect to see new media created by your teens, and think of what you can do to support these budding filmmakers. While all might not prove as successful as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, in the online world,’ there are definitely many niches waiting to be filled.