Peer-produced Content

inWhy Gen Z prefer peer-produced content

Did YouTube kill the Hollywood star? According to a recent study by Variety, the five most influential figures among Americans aged 13-18 are all YouTube vloggers. [1] Drawn to the friendly and relatable nature of vloggers and internet stars, Gen Z has displayed an overwhelming preference for authentic, peer-produced content over traditional media. That is not to say that the days of the mega Hollywood blockbuster, or video game franchise is over, far from it. Gen Z still love consuming high quality entertainment, but they are increasingly intrigued by how their favourite interests, hobbies and fictional works are remixed and interpreted by their fellow fans.

With an ever-growing abundance of high quality programming and entertainment options available to them, Gen Z are seeking out supplementary content and applications that enhance and optimize their viewing experience.

In the second installment of this two-parter, we look at why Gen Z value the talents and opinions of their digital peers, what services they are flocking to and how a shift towards user generated content will affect the future of media production and distribution.

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The fan-centric world of new media
A YouTube Channel expletive-laden YouTube Pokemon parody about a Bulbasaur and Pikachu having a meltdown over their oblivious Pokemon trainers, might not make sense to an adult, but to a 14-year-old, it’s side-splitting comedy gold. ‘Just a Pokemon Battle’ by Egoraptor has over 25 million views, and is one of the many “fan vids” watched by millions of Gen Z viewers on a daily basis on YouTube. As the most popular YouTube channels like PewDiePie, Smosh and Machinima suggest, transformative fan works, parodies, and pop culture mashups are a significant and highly influential portion of young people’s daily media diet.

To better understand Gen Z’s penchant for fan-made content, we must look at the importance young people have placed on fandoms and the fan experience. So says consumer trend researcher Freddie Benjamin; “For most young people, fandoms provide the validation that they are not alone in how they think, how they feel, how they act. In other words, it gives them a community where they belong and feel confident to express themselves.” [2] Gen Z does not simply ‘like’ stuff, they become obsessed. When a casual viewer transitions into a fully-fledged fangirl or fanboy, enjoying a movie, a TV show, a video game or a book is simply not enough. The experience must be magnified and celebrated indefinitely.

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