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Tech Talk

Online video killing the TV star

8/5/2015

Every generation has something that puzzles the preceding generations, be it gay marriage, Twitter, blogs, computers, hip-hop, video games, punk rock, etc. While this list only spans recent history, I’m willing to bet the trend extends all the way back to the discovery of fire and the creation of the wheel. The fact is, change can be scary and almost always confusing. The most recent trend to ding both factors is Internet fame, commonly referred to as “YouTubers.”tech

In the early 2000s, blogs were all the rage. With high-speed Internet and limitless online space to chronicle our world, anyone could publish their thoughts, reports and insights into whatever interested them. Some of these blogs lead to book deals, TV shows, movies and mega website networks, however, most led to nothing more than inane drivel. By the mid-2000s, the Internet became oversaturated with blogs, and they are no longer the rage they once were. What replaced blogs? “Vlogs,” or video-blogs.

In the online publishing space, the term “Blogosphere” (referring to the collective world of blogging) is the second only to vlog in cringe-worthiness. As painful as it sounds to read about someone’s boring life, it is 10 times worse to watch them talk about it, and yet somehow there are thousands of YouTube content producers who do just that. Even worse, some of them are millionaires.

Last month, Los Angeles played host to the sixth annual VidCon, a mega-conference of online video producers. More than 300 of the most popular YouTube content creators and 20,000 superfans gathered to discuss the world of online video. Now, before you write off VidCon as the world’s largest web video flea market, know that these video producers are the next generation of video superstars. PewDiePie, Nigahiga, Joey Graceffa and Vsauce are not cartoon characters, they’re millionaires who have accrued hoards of dedicated fans on YouTube through their stylized delivery of opinions and observations.

What could possibly propel weirdos with names like PewDiePie and Vsauce to become millionaires? Games and science. PewDiePie’s humorous reviews, walkthroughs and discussions of board and videogames have propelled the 25-year-old Swedish online personality to billions of views and nearly $10 million in advertising revenue. Vsauce delivers family-friendly deep dives into science, studies, psychology and much more, while raking in hundreds of millions of views.

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There are hundreds of these YouTubers creating goofy and enticing videos as their full-time job. Subjects including make-up, gardening, baking, car repair, music covers, sports — virtually everything you could possibly have an interest in is making someone rich as a vlogger on YouTube.

So now the question is, who’s watching these videos? The answer is almost always teenagers and pre-teens. After 50 years as the king of media, the Internet is slowly replacing television, and this generation of kids is quickly making it happen. YouTube is niche-targeted, short, consumable and interactive. Comment on a Vsauce video and you could possibly get a reply or be mentioned in the next installment. As popular as “Big Bang Theory” or CW’s “The Flash” are, fans will never get a shout-out during an episode.

The good thing about YouTube is that it’s open to all newcomers. Just because you don’t get the YouTuber craze doesn’t mean you can’t join it. Jump on YouTube right now and search your favorite hobby plus YouTuber, and I guarantee you’ll find a dozen channels worth watching. Better yet, if your search comes up empty, you might have a million-dollar YouTube idea in the making. If that happens, call me and I’ll help set up your new vlogging career. CV

 

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.

 

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