Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Will Apple TV Turbo-Boost Vlogs?

Study  after study shows that people are unplugging from cable at an ever increasing rate.  As reported on recently (Millions of Americans Cut the TV Cord, by Alissa Skelton), The Convergence Consulting Group reports that between 2008 and 2011, 2.65 million Americans ended their pay-tv subscriptions.  They predict that number will grow to 3.58 million by the time 2013 rolls around.   The exodus, according to the report, is driven by online streaming services - Netflix, Hulu and the like.

What the report doesn't reflect, but which will undoubtedly make a dramatic impact in a follow up report a year or two hence, is the rise of online-specific entertainment, led by YouTube and driven by the emergence of the "digital hub"  -  televisions and devices (like Apple TV) that unify most of your digital entertainment (online video, music, podcasts) in one convenient place.  Watching YouTube in your living room is finally becoming as simple as watching your favorite television show.

The numbers so far are likely very small - but they're certain to grow.  As AppleTV and it’s cousins become more commonplace, I expect that millions will soon begin to discover online entertainment - expanding the market so rapidly that conventional (aka traditional/old/archaic) media will be left scratching it's collective head.

Recently, I demonstrated Apple TV to a friend largely unexposed to YouTube and online entertainment. I launched the YouTube app, and scrolled the featured and most popular videos.  A scientist at heart, his attention was drawn to a recent video by Charlieissocoollike - Fun Science:  Randomness -  part of his series defining scientific concepts in brisk, easy to understand and funny videos. At 21, Charlie is a veteran vlogger - he's been on YouTube since he was sixteen.  According to the latest statistics, his videos have over 225 million views.  He's not a typical vlogger - but I think it's fair to say he's a good ambassador for the vlogging community.

In a single moment, my friend understood, for the first time, the personal appeal of online entertainment.  Vlogs take on an added power when presented full screen on a 46 inch television.  A large part of the appeal of effective vlogs is the creator’s personal connection with the audience.  On a television, that connection is only strengthened.  I began to wonder if his reaction might be an early hint of the potential growth of vlog-based entertainment.

The technology isn't there quite yet - all of YouTube's social and community features (commenting on a video or channel, or liking, for example) are currently inaccessible from Apple TV and other similar devices.   Bring these features into the family room alongside big-screen YouTube, and the combination could very well engage millions and make possible a true Vlogging Industry.

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