Audiences are “craving more authenticity” when it comes to what they watch, Fullscreen’s Maureen Polo says
For content creators and distributors, the coronavirus pandemic has created a myriad of challenges — just like it has for millions of other Americans — when it comes to their work. How are they adjusting to these new, unanticipated restraints?
That was one of the key topics discussed on Tuesday during TheWrap’s latest “Survival Guide to Social Media & Digital Start-Ups,” hosted by TheWrap CEO and Editor-in-Chief Sharon Waxman. Joining Waxman were Andrew “King Bach” Bachelor, who has gained 45 million social media followers thanks to his popular comedic sketches and videos; Maureen Polo, general manager of Fullscreen, which specializes in helping social media content creators and has more than 2,500 influencers under its umbrella; and Greg Kampanis, SVP and general manager of Omnia Media, a gaming-focused, digital-first media company that pulls in 2.5 billion views per month with content aimed primarily at Millennial and Gen Z fans.
Bachelor, whose new comedy film, “Coffee & Kareem,” recently debuted on Netflix, said he’s primarily focused on churning out free content for his fans, rather than partnering with brands during this chaotic time.
“In this time, you have to find work for yourself. You have to make yourself busy,” Bachelor said. “You can get trapped in the depression state and thinking everything is hopeless, but you have to motivate yourself. What I’ve been doing is motivating myself to get up, work out, and find work to do. I’m hanging in there.”
That means not only maintaining the same breakneck content-creation pace he normally would but in some cases exceeding it. Bachelor said he normally posts videos between 3:30-6:00 p.m. during the week, aiming for when people get out of school and out of work, and then shifts to 10:00 a.m. on the weekends. Now, “every day is a weekend,” Bachelor said. He’s now having to “pump out content” every day, he said, sometimes with a humorous PSA-style take on COVID-19. And because more people are spending time on their phones and devices, he said “engagement is a lot higher.”
This was something the other panelists pointed to as well. Kampanis noted views have gone “through the rough” in recent weeks for Omnia content.
“On our own network, we’re seeing 20-30% viewership increases from just three weeks ago,” Kampanis said. “It’s continuing to go up, the watch time is going up.” He added this is a consistent trend across YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok and Omnia’s AVOD channel.
This has caused Omnia to rush deliver certain content, Kampanis said, because there is an “opportunity” for new shows to grab a captive audience; he pointed to a new show, focused on the popular “Grand Theft Auto” game franchise, Omnia just put out on Snapchat. “Every platform is looking to fill holes in their schedules because production is shut down.”
When it comes to content, Polo said she sees a “new normal” emerging because of the pandemic, where less is more. Refined production has been replaced with a more stripped-down approach — and viewers are gravitating towards it. Polo pointed to late-night hosts like Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon now hosting shows from their homes and finding a way to still make it entertaining.
“Audiences, we’re seeing — especially younger audiences — they’re craving more authenticity,” Polo said. “They’re craving less polished content. They want a deeper connection, and they actually believe in a world where brands can bring that connection to them… this pandemic is fostering that more quickly than would’ve happened pre-COVID-19.”
Watch the full one-hour webinar for more insight on a potential advertising crisis for content creators, avoiding “burnout,” and what audiences are interested in watching while quarantined.