The average American spends around 141 hours of live television per month. That’s 4 hours a day. Although that’s still an undeniably (and unhealthily) high amount, it is slowly declining.
On the other side of the coin, online viewing is shooting through the roof. Although Americans watched streamed online video on average only 11 hours per month, consumption of digital video is rapidly increasing.
The key driver behind the rise of online video is the growing ease at which creators can make and distribute content. Let’s compare vloggers (video bloggers) on Youtube to television.
Traditionally, distribution costs in producing TV content has been high, because of the complex infrastructure needed to transmit content to a broad mass of consumers. Consequently, production costs have been high, with TV producers spending bloated budgets to appeal a large body of viewers.
Youtube and its rivals have disrupted this by providing a free and open platform for people to distribute and watch videos. Producing a basic Youtube video takes little more than a webcam or a smartphone. The growing phenomenon of vlogging displays some interesting dynamics in the evolving phenomenon of online video.
Millennials are the chief watchers of online video. What we’ve seen in recent years is that millennials also want to see content produced by their peers. To give an example of scale top UK vlogger Zoella, 24, has over 6 million Youtube followers, most of whom would also be teenagers. Her short (and more often than not vapid) short video snippets garner 12 million hits each month.
This democratization of video talent has also enabled vloggers to earn a healthy income from their work. The very best can earn up to £20,000/month from Youtube adverts notwithstanding the money they can make by working directly with brands.
Vloggers Caspar Lee and Zoe Sugg, Zoella, speaking at the 2014 VidCon at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Image Credit: Gage Skidmore
Unlike Television, which has hitherto relied on unspecific third party data for audience insight, vloggers have direct engagement with their audience and can more accurately identify who actually watches their videos. The content creators are not only able to view from afar who their audience is but also maintain an on-going dialogue with them. This not only maintains high levels of stickiness and loyalty among followers but also feeds back into future content making decisions.
The proliferation of video creators has led to specialization in subject matter. Whereas television producers had to create content for all, vloggers have the luxury of focusing on a core group of followers that are segmented by different demographics such as age or interests. The range of subjects covered is diverse. For example some vloggers cater for teenage fashion enthusiasts and others, such as 8-year-old Evan, focus on video games and toys for young children.