In the modern era of the Internet, it often feels like a free-for-all. Everyone with a computer can set up a blog and write about television; some of which have reached unbelievable levels of notoriety and success, and some just exist by virtue of a tenacious content-provider. But even the bigger television blog sites (both corporate and amateur) have faced unprecedented levels of decline; and with more viewers and fans reaching out and clamoring for more and more content every day, this seems inconceivable. What is the reason for the decline and where are the readers/fans going for their voracious online fix?
The answer is simple: it is the rise of UGC (user generated content). Fans are no longer content to be spoon-fed slideshows, recaps, and reviews anymore. They have figured out through social media sites, such as: Tumbler, YouTube, Vine, Instagram and more, that they can create their own content – and they can do it faster and better than anyone else.
Everyone has felt the similar frustration of searching throughout the Google and Yahoo search engines for something, anything that matches what they are looking for. For television fans, they wanted the instant gratification of information, photos and video clips about their favorite TV shows – both before the show or episode airs, and immediately after. Their need to be part of the interactive digital world led to huge amounts of traffic for fan sites and professional promotional show and celebrity pages.
But in 2013, a noticeable trend began to emerge: Internet site traffic was falling-off, just as fan demand had reached an all time high. So the question became where were fans going? Where were they going to read about their shows and to interact with each other to talk about their favorite TV shows? Message boards and traditional promotional sites were a thing of the past, even TelevisionWithoutPity seemed passé.
It was the rise of social media. For some, social media simply means Facebook and Twitter, but to the internet-savvy, it means much more. Social media is not just a source of information; it allows fans a way to interact with the content they are seeking. Fans wanted to have control of what they wanted and when they wanted it. They no longer had to wait for screencaps and promotional stills to be posted by network publicists and favored press. They could simply use the social media tools at their disposal and create their own. They also quickly figured out that they could create GIFs, Vine videos and Instragram shorts with their favorite clips to enjoy as they saw fit. They could also make music videos with their favorite characters and embed the exact scenes they wanted immortalized. Thus, fans were essentially creating their own content for themselves and other fans, and bypassing the professional blog sites.
Traditional content-providers were snubbed for being out of touch because fans were able to get what they wanted and share it faster than the professionals employed by the studios and blog sites. So content-mills and studio-run TV show sites became graveyards. Fans were not enticed by contests and exclusives. They were simply having too much fun playing in their world – a world created by and with content tailored to their own specific vision. It is their fantasy world to play in and they control it exclusively.
This has led to the modern quandary: do we need professional blog sites anymore? With fans able to connect and share personal photos, videos, clips, GIFs and more all on their own in their own social media play-worlds, is there anyway to entice them back to traditional content-provider sites? Do fans want slideshows, reviews and recaps anymore? Do they care to watch an exclusive video interview with their favorite star when it is only filled with vague spoilers? What are fans looking for?
One thing is for certain: fans do not want traditional media anymore. They are looking for an interactive experience of their own choosing and with content that they have created. They want ownership and content that is tailor-made. They want something more exclusive and special. Something more rewarding. Like everyone, their time is precious and they want to spend it on something that matters. They are not content to spend their time on substandard product – not when they can create what they want for themselves.
So the Internet has not only opened doors to direct access to stars and those who working on television shows, it has made it easier than ever to cut out the middleman. Who needs a publicist when stars and shows can talk directly to the fans? And it runs both ways. With celebrities and TV shows posting direct content, fans do not need to get their information from traditional promotion sites anymore. They take what is readily available and turn it into the art they want to see.
For some fans, they still appreciate traditional media. They enjoy reading opinion articles exploring themes in TV shows. They are content to see the photos and video clips released by the studios. They are happy to be spoon-fed. But given the sheer number of fans that have decamped to UCG social media sites, that is where the majority of fans are happy to be these days. They have created their own worlds and are having too much fun to return to the old world of traditional blog sites.
Get used to it: UGC (user generated content) is not only the next big wave or trend; it is here to stay.
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