Know Thine Enemy: Creators Are Not Your Competition, TV Is

The internet is a crowded place, with the competition for eyeballs extremely stiff.

It can often feel overwhelming, and discouraging to the would-be creator who wants to share their work but is afraid that posting it to the internet is the same as sending it down a black hole.

But a new study from Deloitte offers hope, though perhaps not in the way you’d expect.

Surveying almost 2,000 Americans of all ages, the consulting firm found that a surprising 71% rated TV as among their favorite content. Further, almost half of all respondents said they streamed TV either every day or every week, a ten percent uptick from a year ago.

This shouldn’t be particularly surprising; we have, after all, entered the “golden age of TV.” But for independent content creators on the outside of the industry looking in, it serves as a reminder: our competition is not each other, but the big boys with inflated budgets hogging all the attention.

Rumors of TV’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Sites like Youtube, SoundCloud, and others can often feel like zero-sum games: the more views someone else gets, the less left over for you. And surely this is true in some cases, especially if your content is unoriginal—you can only fit so many Yung Lean clones on one platform.

But for the most part, as the Deloitte report makes clear, your spotlight isn’t being sucked up by fellow creators, but by media behemoths who budget in PR costs and order organic catering for the whole crew.And it’s not just attention that shows are after, but conversation, too. By “embracing the internet,” Deloitte says, TV has also placed itself at the center of social media discussions. In turn, live streaming has increased as spoilers become impossible to avoid.

“The traditional advertising model,” Deloitte exec Phil Asmundson declares, “is alive and well.”

Making Millennials Out of Gen X’ers

For the content creator, this means luring viewers away from other creators is not the only effective method of growing an audience. There is a large, untapped market of individuals who enjoy streaming yet haven’t left the safe world of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and others. It may be time to focus on them.

While the task appears daunting—How can an independent creator ever compete with the resources of Netflix?—it’s not without precedent.In their discussion of intergenerational trends, Deloitte mentions that mobile consumption behaviors of Gen X (ages 35-51) are beginning to “closely mirror” those of Gen Z (14-20) and Millennials (21-34). For independent purveyors of content, this is a good sign: Millennials prefer Youtube 2-to-1 over traditional television, according to Omnicore. While this is an imperfect measurement—not all Youtube content is independently made nor all that creative—it nonetheless indicates a trend toward media decentralization.

Considering how large a piece of the pie is still held by traditional media, this is cause for optimism.  

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