In the world of mobility – laptops, smartphones, iTunes/Netflix/Hulu, and high speed Internet – you, the viewer, are getting more exposure to new forms of entertainment that makes cable and mainstream media less interesting. You’re finding podcasts, web series, ebooks, and comic books with storytelling that you have wanted for years or perhaps your whole life. Things like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Patreon makes finding and supporting new media possible. So why the sudden change in the entertainment industry?
Here’s an insider secret from someone who’s been trained in the industry and took extra classes on how to media marketing: the answers lies in numbers. The “old guard” (networks, big name publishers, big name film companies, and record labels) evaluates things via numbers. Things like viewership and sales have a specific number that a project has to reach to be considered worth continuing or considered a success. An example of numbers jeopardizing a tv show is NBC’s Hannibal. Several times on social media there were cries from fans begging people to just turn on their tvs to the show so that their viewership number was counted as a way to get the show to go another season. Doesn’t sound very fair huh? Sadly, this is the fad part of the mainstream entertainment.
The new guys, the startup companies and the INDIES, are more based on fan reactions. Numbers make them stoked but they keep at their creativity’s love child no matter the number. They’re in it to make something new that the mainstream industry doesn’t want in their ranks but the niches crave. This form of thinking is why we have unexpected producers (Amazon and Netflix to name a few) jumping in on the game. Aiming for niches means steady interest (AKA money), when the aim is mainstream it is a fad and the project brings in an income for a short period of time until the fad resurfaces a few decades later when a remake is considered. We viewers still get our hands on the shows from the networks that we like, but in the digital age we’re not chained to the tv at specific hours and we have a large range of entertainment to choose from.
So what does that mean for the old guard, movie theaters, and cable?
It means change. Having a large range of niche targeted media, making online channels easily available to people who cut the cord, taking better note on the online viewership, cable should get cosy with the idea of custom made packages to let people choose the channels they want, and (for goodness sake) news networks need to stop reporting on what is found online or at least do it less frequently as they are.
Flexibility is the point. Running things like it’s still the 90s doesn’t make sense and that’s what confuses the new generation of viewers. We’re not going to settle for what’s on the screen/in the bookstore/in the videogame store when we can find what we really want online for free or merely an affordable price. In the end, fans/viewers/readers are supporting an idea (a story) and the people behind them. Cause, honestly, when we know we’re helping a creator support his/her family vs. pay for a CEO to buy beach house # whatever – we tend to go with the little guy.
Next up on the INDIE Report: How to find the legit hidden gems.