By Michael Gruen, blockchain, DeFi, CPG, SoMe Tech and entertainment industry entrepreneur. At only 22, Michael has millions worth of BTC.
Media, by its very existence, is constantly fluid. Think of the evolution of the music world. People went from tuning into their local radio station to hear shows and songs to being able to listen to their favorite music on demand by playing records. Then our on-demand music evolved, from records to eight-tracks and cassette tapes to CDs and finally the digital revolution that brought about mp3s, iPods and streaming.
There was a similar evolution in film and TV entertainment. Remember the days when you had to be at home, tuned in and sitting in front of your TV when your favorite show came on? If you missed it when it aired, you missed it forever. Many of the people reading this won’t remember that. I certainly don’t.
I grew up in a world of on-demand visual entertainment — one that kicked off with VHS tapes to record and watch your favorite movies and shows and then DVDs that were more reliable and had better audio-visual quality than their tape counterparts. Video game systems brought the fun of the arcade into bedrooms and living rooms.
Then came truly on-demand home entertainment. Don’t have a particular movie at home? No worries! Watch it on demand through your cable company. Platforms like Netflix and Hulu expanded access and put shows and movies online, followed by online versions of TV and cable network platforms (HBO Max and Peacock, for example).
What was next? Delivering entertainment in the hands of people at home. Enter YouTube, which allowed people to upload their own videos. Although the very first video uploaded to the platform — an 18-second clip of YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim at the zoo — seems quaint by today’s standards, it kicked off a wave of user-generated video content across social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Livestreaming was the next frontier. While the first livestream technically happened in 1993 (in an internet broadcast by a band called Severe Tire Damage), it gained popularity starting in 2008 on platforms like YouTube Live and later via livestreams via other social media platforms. In 2011, Twitch put a new twist on livestreaming by bringing together the world of gaming and livestreaming.
In time, YouTube figured out how to monetize its content by running ads. The strategy has paid off. In early 2020, Google (which purchased YouTube in 2006) revealed that the video platform had generated nearly $5 billion in ad revenue in the three months prior. Other platforms quickly followed suit.
With each exciting new development in media evolution, it seems as though we’ve finally reached the end of all that is possible. What could be next? How could streaming, for example, have any more room for change? How can we possibly take things to the next level?
Strangely, the next level is going to look a lot like returning to media’s humble television beginnings. Think ad-supported, 24-hour-a-day broadcasts that people can tune into anytime. This is certainly the future on Twitch, which kicked off mid-roll ads in September 2020. Users like myself are kicking off networks that stream content 24-7, generating ad revenue. With a significant percentage of Gen Zers and Millennials tuning into Twitch frequently, the platform plays heavily into the media future of the younger demographic.
From eight-tracks and mp3s to video beaming and streaming, the younger demographic has always driven media change for everyone. If the advent of the 24-hour network “Twitch TV” model means visual media has come full circle, it will be truly interesting to see where we go next.