Excerpt from MTV News article, Bryan Singer’s ‘H+ The Digital Series’ Shuts Down Hardwired Humans
“An advantage of placing “H+” on YouTube is the audience’s ability to control their viewing experience and share it with others. Episodes can be watched in scripted order or chronological order, or based on storyline, character or location.
“People are going to be able to create their own curated playlists, out of as many or as few episodes as they want,” said Cabrera. “What we’re hoping that creates is a new form of what I like to call social distribution, where the actual audiences themselves become a part of the storytelling process.”
This shows some naivete regarding the platform, either on the part of John Cabrera (H+) or Tami Katzoff (MTV News) or both.
What Cabrera likes to call “social distribution” (i.e. user-generated playlists) has existed on YouTube for several years. YT audiences have been curating their own programming blocks for that long. It is only a new form of distribution if you’ve never administered a YT channel before.
The challenge is that the vast majority of Web audiences still retain a traditional media mindset. They either don’t know that they are their own Brandon Tartikoff and/or they simply don’t want to be their own Brandon Tartikoff. Traditional media audiences have been spoon-fed their A/V content for 117 years and that form of delivery has become habitual.
Many people use TV and Cinema as devices for relaxation and escapism; it allows them to turn off their own analytical thoughts and consume someone else’s thoughts for a little while. Our brains are wired for consumption OR analysis, not both at the same time. As soon as you start analyzing content, you’re no longer engaged in its consumption. Your brain contextualizes every frame differently.
For some, that activity spoils (for lack of a better word) future consumption, which is why many content creators cannot consume content without recognizing the content elements. It’s very rare that I will watch a movie without thinking, “ok there’s the inciting incident”, “there’s the departure from the familiar world, we’re now in Act 2”, etc, etc. That’s the same analytical part of the brain that is used to make playlists on YouTube in the way that Cabrera is describing.
The majority of user-generated playlists on YouTube are really no different than that user’s Favorites playlist. The videos are unrelated other than the fact that this user has bunched them all together and called the playlist “Funny Vids”. There’s very little thought – if any – given to narrative flow or thematic relationships.
I suspect Cabrera is going to be unsatisfied with the results of his “new form” of distribution. If H+’s producers were smart, they’d just take the extra few hours and create these theme-based H+ playlists themselves. Hoping audiences will do it is just plain naive and lazy. Audiences need to be retrained and rewired for Cabrera’s goal to be fulfilled.