“Um, he's sick. My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious.”–“Ferris Beuller’s Day Off,” Paramount (1986)
Editor's Note—Ah, "Ferris Beuller's Day Off", the veritable Rosetta Stone to understanding teen culture. Today's blog pivots on the chronicles of infamous Ferris as Andy Marken examines why youth viewing habits will impact the industry.
Bet you’ve said (or heard it said), “Kids today have it so good.”
Every generation says the same thing because they’re not dragging a bunch of experience and habits into the next century.
Growing up, the “boob tube” was the cheap babysitter that people said would rot your brain.
Our kids don’t really think about the TV set, they think about video content and entertainment.
Our daughter takes photos/videos at school, comes home, uploads them to YouTube and Skypes with friends from all over.
Our son mixes his own music videos, loads them to a variety of sites, including artistserver.com.
They both enjoy content almost constantly, moving effortlessly between their smartphone, iPad, computer, family room TV.
It just doesn’t matter to them—content is content. Entertainment is entertainment.
Regarding the content need we agree with Ferris, “You're not dying, you just can't think of anything good to do.”
There’s more than enough to choose from today.
YouTube recently announced that more than 72 hours of video content is uploaded to the site every minute…jeez!
No wonder networks, stations are struggling. Most of the content is free. Most of it is pretty darn good. Our flat screen is connected to the Internet and it’s refreshing to watch stuff like TED that makes you think.
Sure, the kids will watch the TV (sometimes), but they’re also watching something else on their iPad or smartphone, sometimes both.
They’re a little older than what some industry analysts classify as “digital natives” because they never lived in a world without 24/7 cable TV, Internet access, cellphones.
They probably fall into the digital immigrant category because they quickly adapted to switching between the various technologies and changing media throughout the day.
More than simply taking, they and teens everywhere are also giving back…in spades.
Ferris observed, “Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive.”
Older teens (like our kids) do more than their younger counterparts, but that shouldn’t be such a surprise since they’re more likely to have the necessary tools – smartphones, tablets, still/video cameras. According to a recent Pew Research study, 27 percent of the teen internet users record and upload videos.
WHO IS UPLOADING AND RECORDING VIDEO
- 37% of internet users ages 12-17 participate in video chats with others using applications such as Skype, Googletalk or iChat. Girls are more likely than boys to have such chats.
- 27% of internet-using teens 12-17 record and upload video to the internet. One major difference between now and 2006 is that online girls are just as likely these days to upload video as online boys.13% of internet-using teens stream video live to the internet for other people to watch. Social media users are much more likely than those who do not use social media to engage in all three video behaviors studied. (Source: Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project)
Boys seem to do the video production/uploading content more than girls; not that we find that surprising or even relevant because to us content is content, entertainment is entertainment.
Not sure if gender or race has that much to do with their desire to express themselves visually and share their content with the world.
Inexpensive Creative Tools
The big deal is that they have the video hardware and software tools like Avid Studio, muvee, ArcSoft, Corel that are fast/easy to use and very economical.
The software lets them steady the scenes, sharpen the images, use elegant transitions, add music/special effects so the stuff you view is almost as good – maybe even better – than the stuff you watch on TV.
Seeing his stuff online Ferris commented, “Incredible, one of the worst performances of my career and they never doubted it for a minute.”
And with 72 hours of video content pushed up to YouTube every minute and similar volumes going to the other online sites, there’s plenty to choose from.
Streaming – Teens, digital natives, find it completely logical that they can watch their content – professional, indie, personal – anytime, anywhere they want and enjoy it on the device of their choice.Source: Broadcom
They not only choose what they want to watch; they decide how, when and where they want to watch it.
Phone folks like to tell you how folks – especially young folks – are abandoning the living/family room TV set to watch on their little 4-5 inch screen.
iPad and tablet people are quick to counter that they’re doing it all on their device as the TV set gathers dust.
Sure, the device(s) are convenient when they’re on-the-go; but according to Nielsen Research, they just want to be entertained.
Entertainment is Entertainment – Sure, teens get their entertainment sitting in the living/family room watching the TV; but they also get their video (and gaming) fix in the garage, basement, bedroom, you name it. There’s a TV device for any location.Source: Nielsen
They just don’t seem to be too particular where or how they’re watching their stuff as long as their watching.
They use the TV set in their room and the game console and the living/family room as well as streaming on their computer/iPad.
Content is content; and even though their eyes are better than ours, they still like to watch their entertainment on the TV.
But they’re equal entertainment device viewers and certainly don’t glue themselves to the TV set.
Viewing Time – While common logic says it’s the kids who are watching more content than the adults, the numbers don’t support the contention. In fact, they’re so busy texting; they don’t seem to have much time to watch video on their smartphone.Source: Nielsen
Teens constantly, seamlessly switch their attention between media platforms. In fact, some analysts say they change frequently to regulate their mood from tired to bored, happy to sad.
If they want to deal with mixed emotions, they can use them all – TV, tablet, smartphone – and really mess with their minds. Still a lot better than other mind-altering options.
In case you haven’t noticed, the constant barrage of newer, better digital technology – hardware and software – is affecting all of our brains.
Even back in 2008, Scientific American published an article on how our technology was stimulating brain cell alteration and neurotransmission release. Technology is strengthening new neural pathways and weakening old ones to accommodate the rapidly changing barrage of content.
It’s just a lot easier with younger folks who have grown up with computers, smartphones, tablets, video game systems, you name it.
Online, On-the-Go – While mobile video viewing will increase, it won’t be as rapidly as it is for people who like their entertainment online and with larger screens. Source – eMarketer
While online video viewing continues its steady growth, teens – and post teens – are increasingly clogging the mobile pipelines with their entertainment.
This is probably why the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has been so aggressively “urging” the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to give the carriers more of the broadcasters’ bandwidth (something they’re obviously not too keen on).
Broadcasters agree with the Maitre D’ when he said, “I'm suggesting that you leave before I have to get snooty.”
But this year, US smartphone viewers represent 90 percent of the mobile video population, according to eMarketer estimates. By 2015, this percentage will rise to 98.5 percent.
In Asia-Pacific, over 2.1 billion folks (half the region’s population) use mobile phones and smartphones are rapidly replacing feature phones which open new on-the-go entertainment opportunities for the users.
On the positive side for most content producers/owners is the fact that analysts seem to agree that most of the online, mobile viewers will increasingly prefer premium content – TV shows, movies.
Better Quality Service
Of course before our kids – or we – begin paying for mobile viewing content, carriers are going to have to figure out how to price the service so it is reasonable instead of costing the proverbial arm ‘n leg.
Needless to say, they also have to make darn sure they have bullet-proof coverage…everywhere.
If they don’t, they’ll probably hear Grace say,“Ferris Bueller's on line 2.”
And if they don’t deliver, he may take their Ferrari for a spin.
Andy Marken is president of Marken Communications (www.markencom.com). Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.