Communities Over Content: The Importance of Community Engagement in Media

March 24, 2020 Holly Enneking

Not too long ago, to watch a movie, you went to a theater, bought a ticket and spent 90 minutes enjoying the brilliance of the Silver Screen.  The technology needed to enable that experience, somewhat obscured, included the celluloid 35mm film, a projector and a screen (and of course, some popcorn!).  As home viewing became more prevalent, VHS tapes, Blu-Ray discs, and televisions helped create a home entertainment experience. With the proliferation of streaming services, technology continues to play a role behind the scenes, shaping the experience for the viewer.

These technologies represent a mix of new and evolving, including:

  1. Content. Of course we still need the wonderful movies and television shows, but consumers are frequently watching User Generated Content (UGC) as well.

  2. Distribution. Without an app, such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or YouTube, you’ll have a harder time finding content.

  3. Devices. Smart TV’s, smart phones, and laptops provide the new Silver Screen for viewing.

  4. Infrastructure. Without Internet bandwidth, streaming could not happen.  And did you know video streaming consumes 70% of internet traffic to mobile devices?

As streaming makes content more readily available, in the home and on the move, we see different communities of viewers self-identify and engage with one another.  Sure, you can still be a Trekkie, wear a Starfleet Command uniform and debate Kobayashi Maru, but you no longer need to go to these lengths to self-identify with a community of viewers. 

The same technologies that bring you content, also enable the communities that support and promote that content.  For example, it’s never been easier to follow a show or an actor via social media, and engage with fans who follow as well.  Jennifer Aniston received 8.6M followers in one day, when she joined Instagram and promoted the Friends reunion!  If you’re team Rachel, you’re probably following Jennifer.   And while Game of Thrones topped out around 10M followers, Emilia Clark (Danerys Targaryen) boasts 28M followers.  Couple social media with Wiki pages and fan blogs and even the most casual fan can become a more active member of their content community.  

Additionally, we see fans share content more readily, frequently and easily.  Just think of how easy it is to find a Netflix show on your smartphone, hit share, and text the title to your friends and family.  And while a proliferation of content abounds, most consumers still rely on recommendations from friends to determine what to watch next.  

Sharing content has been taken to another level with stream sharing apps like Netflix Party (https://www.netflixparty.com/) which allow you to watch the same movie or show with others in remote locations.  There is also a chat feature that allows you to comment on the show in real time. And in a world where a pandemic such as COVID-19 exists, social distancing can be supported by friends who have synchronized the same content and are watching “together” remotely.

As the amount of content continues to grow, we’ll continue to see communities and micro-communities organize and identify with that content.  And, as fans become more involved and immersed with that content, we might look to examples from the video game community to see how this evolution might continue.  

Communities are now more important than ever, and technology is allowing us all to connect faster and engage more with the content that is being created.   Join us on March 25 to hear us discuss more about what this means for the media and entertainment industry. 

 

 

Meet The Author

Tim Mosa is Managing Director at Lev, with nearly 20 years of experience in marketing technology consulting, primarily serving clients in the Media, Sports Entertainment and Gaming sectors.   Born and raised in Southern California, Tim also sits on the Board of Directors for Run Seal Beach, a non-profit 5k/10k race which has donated more than $1.8M to local youth athletics in the past 15 years.

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