Redefining TV Night

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By Julie Capron

Growing up, my Friday nights revolved around ABC’s programming block, T.G.I.F. My brother and I would head to the living room for some popcorn and TV to laugh at Urkel’s antics and wonder what grade Mr. Feeny couldn’t teach within 30 minute “bites.” Today’s youth have a few more options when it comes to consuming entertainment in network-dictated chunks.

For example, let’s look at YouTube’s Awesomeness TV channel, which takes into account technology’s impact on television viewing. YouTube brings the channel to life on the online video platform teens are already on—its own website. According to a study by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 71 percent of US high school students access YouTube online and through their mobile device several times per week.

Awesomeness TV provides a wide variety of teen-friendly series to choose from, including:  game shows, tutorials, girl chat, music docudramas, and sketch comedy. Shows don’t follow a “standard” length (even within the same series), but tend to be on the shorter side—which caters to teens’ multitasking lifestyle and challenges the 30-minute (or more) commitment involved in traditional television viewing.   Both the variety of topics and the variation in video length contribute to the channel’s mass appeal: as of right now, it’s received nearly 21 million views.

Another great part of Awesomeness TV is the flexibility it provides simply by living on YouTube. Teens can access their shows anytime and on any device they choose, so “TV” no longer has to be a scheduled event—it can happen with the click (or tap) of a button (or screen).

Awesomeness TV isn’t the only channel on YouTube catering to this audience. Shut Up Cartoons is another YouTube channel seeing great success. The Channel, which started January 18, 2012, has received nearly 56 million views to date.

Knowledge Networks predicts that by 2015, 76 percent of Internet users (and 92 percent of teens) will watch video content online each month. This statistic holds a host of implications when it comes to easily consumable media, second-screen content, family time and much more.

As these channels become more commonplace, and viewers expect (and come to demand) the flexibility they provide, we could see a fundamental shift in just how people view television.

It could be just a matter of time before physically gathering around the television on a scheduled night becomes as much of a relic as black-and-white sets with rabbit ears.

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