The New Broadcaster

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A new kind of media celebrity is brewing. I can feel it.

The main media story coming out of the weekend, was the amount of people who used live streaming platforms like Meerkat and Periscope to transmit the boxing match to their social network. It’s not exactly what Showtime had in mind (hint: it’s not legal), but it’s hard to stop technology (see: Mashable - Sorry, no Periscoping Mayweather vs. Pacquiao). With that, came a lot of commentary about how interesting it was to take part in this strange, new way to engage with content. It sounds/feels like live piracy. One person streams the event from their smartphone, while others tune it. Everyone can comment, chat and more. Watch how the copyright lawyers begin their attacks on the industry. 

But, there’s a big, huge and important nuance to this experience that brands must pay attention to.

In reading about a lot of these experiences, there were a few people who said that the person streaming the event would also add in their own color commentary and – that some of these individuals – were actually better than the paid announcers for the event. It was as if these streamers were leveraging the event – along with the audience that it was attracting – to also create their own, unique experience by adding their commentary to the event. Self expression is the new entertainment, is something that Arianna Huffington has been saying for years. 

The convergence of three media ideas:

    • Media Idea #1 – Mystery Science Theater 3000. This TV show was a huge cult favorite. It featured a man and his sidekick robots, watching a bunch of b-movies and commenting on them. They were sitting in this darkened movie theatre and heir shadows dished on whatever was in front of them. The audience is not really watching the movies, so much as watching the people in the audience comment on the movies. 
    • Media Idea #2 – Howard Stern tweeting through Private Parts. While he wasn’t the first to do this, Howard Stern was – without a doubt – the most famous person to do this first. While his movie from 1997 was being aired on TV on a random weekend a few years back, the radio personality decided to simultaneously tweet a running commentary. Many people, including Entertainment Weekly, wondered whether this was the future of media. In a few short years, live tweeting like this has become commonplace.  
    • Media Idea #3 – Amazon acquires Twitch. Last year, Amazon purchased Twitch (an online video network) that is primarily known as the destination for people that want to watch other people playing video games. Yes, people watching other people play video games. Did I mention that Amazon payed close to one billion dollars for this media network (not a typo)? While I wrote about this back in 2014 (more on that here: A Twitch In Time), it’s hard to argue that people enjoy watching other people – with a depth of knowledge in a very specific/niche area – share their wisdom in a powerful way.

Pulling this all together. 

We’re seeing a desire from audiences to have a deep dive into content (even while that content is being played out in real/near-real time). It may have started when DVDs added in director’s commentary as a bonus feature, but it has moved from additional material to prime material… in a big way. The ability for individuals to create new forms of content – and act like hosts on top of events – is becoming much easier since live streaming tools like Meerkat and Periscope take hold. It is – without question – a new and unique format that allows individuals to become wanted broadcasters by an audience. We’re also seeing a desire by audiences to not just be able to play video games that are networked (and that they can communicate through), but to just watch people doing the things that they’re best at. This may have its roots in reality TV… or even in plain old rubbernecking, but the human curiosity is there. Plus, we’re not just watching something that others are broadcasting and commenting on. Audiences are also taking part by actively letting the broadcaster know if they like it and what they think. The audiences are voting and active along with the broadcaster. 

So, what’s really new here?

A new kind of podcaster? A new kind of broadcaster? It’s really a new form of media curation. Individuals live streaming an event, and being the host/broadcaster as they add layers of entertainment, information and commentary that could trump the professionals from the major media outlets. In fact, they’re really talking over the original broadcasters. Just more noise? Just more opinion? Possibly. My guess is that we will begin to see the next generation of broadcasters come out of this new kind of commentary. My guess is that we will begin to see a sub-culture of entertainment driven by this. It’s going to attract fans, and those interested in watching live events with a myriad of personalities working it, talking over one another and building their own kind of brand on top of an existing one.

Live streaming + new commentary on top of the existing commentary = the new broadcaster.