Spirit looks to blend together the best skills from the TV and digital worlds. Our philosophy is that a modern day TV producer who aspires to be able to produce across platforms needs a number of new skills, most of which can be learnt from the world of YouTube.
In the old days, TV producers could rely on their broadcast partners to perform a number of tasks: marketing/audience building, play-out, analytics and monetisation. In these days of digital self-publishing and social media, producers need to understand these skills themselves to help distribute their content to an interested and engaged digital audience to make money and be ready for the future.
So what can TV producers learn from YouTube?
Commercial television is still all about advertising, whilst the most commercially successful YouTube channels are becoming experts at sponsorship, product placement and digital activations. YouTube benefits from their talent (or ‘influencers’) being able to talk directly to their audience and fans around each piece of content, allowing for an enhanced, richer experience that sells products. The most successful influencer on YouTube can earn more from a video than a top TV star… mainly fuelled by their ability to directly effect the sale of products.
This ‘influencer engagement’ has meant more and more brands are starting to see the value of YouTube. Connected, engaged, earned media is more powerful than badly targeted paid-for media. Evidence shows that people buy people more than they buy adverts. Peer to peer advertising, stars that can directly influence and creative freedom led by instant analysis is the holy grail for YouTube. Maybe TV can learn from this world.
From the work we are doing with YouTube channels and influencers, we are seeing the brands sit up and notice the potential to drive sales in this medium.
Whilst TV and film will always benefit from having talented camera, lighting and sound operators, the rise of inexpensive equipment like DSLRs and laptop editing software means good production values can be achieved more easily these days. Technology is part of our everyday lives, so it is becoming the norm for most of us to ‘have a go’ at producing content on regular basis. From Instagram and Vine videos to iMovie phone editing, we are in the age of digital creativity which will keep on pushing the boundaries of entertainment.
On YouTube, the shorter form (and mostly cheaper) content allows for more experimenting and testing without huge financial pressures. Will we see iPlayer, the long-awaited 4Shorts and other broadcaster-managed digital platforms test this route for piloting? I am sure we will. More ideas get seen and made because the platform is open for experiment. As such, the user is able to become the commissioner, meaning content can be way more risky than the red-taped programming TV channels have to adhere to.
We are seeing new channels like The Evening Standard’s LondonLive looking to producers like Spirit who can combine our skills in producing low cost, high quality content with a new creative approach learnt from YouTube that helps the content stand out.
We can publish, analyse, improve and iterate content on YouTube extremely quickly when a TV series with huge financial investment doesn’t yet have that luxury. If a YouTube idea doesn’t work, it can be changed quickly. If a TV series is received poorly, the money has been spent already.
Audiences have social feeds and technology at their fingertips these days, meaning YouTube content is only ever a click away, regardless of what platform we are on. TV is becoming the poor relation next door that is a hassle to go and see and is fast becoming the second screen!
As we have seen from FremantleMedia’s investment in multi-channel networks and Disney’s recent acquisition of Maker Studios, TV companies think they can learn a lot from YouTube. “If you can’t beat them, do what Disney is doing with Maker and buy them!”
Spirit is a multi award-winning, next-generation, multi-platform content company founded by ex-Endemol execs Peter Cowley & Matt Campion. Spirit is part of Content Media Corp, which will be present at MIPTV!
More online innovation, on YouTube and beyond, at the MIP Digital Fronts, April 9-10 at MIPTV! More info here…