Is Youtube the next big studio?

As I was writing that title, I thought to myself it sounded a little stupid.  However, the more I mull it over in my head I’m not entirely certain that I’m off the mark here.  As you no doubt are aware Youtube is the largest video sharing site on the planet (and if you’re not, then “Hello, welcome to earth, you have a lot to catch up on.”)  All of it’s material is generated by average users.  Random people like you and me.  Now why I think of it as the next big studio waiting to happen, is because of the money behind it.

Forbes magazine, has put together a list of the top YouTube stars of 2016.  All of these kids are millionaires through YouTube.  Now if a lot of these videos are merely vlogs, sketch comedies or musings on life, it begs the question, what if someone were to create something really original and out there?  There are already some really great fan films for Star Wars on there:

and here:

Which leads one to wonder, if you can make this quality of film using a small budget, what if you can make a TV or Film series for YouTube distribution but with a high quality budget?  It seems the financial feasibility is there, there just needs to be the drive to produce something original.

Apparently today was my lucky day!

Today I got not one, not two, but three links from faithful readers of this blog.  What’s even more exciting is that two of the three were the same article.  Clearly we’re all thinking on the same page people!  Keep it up!

The CBC reported that 80% more people cut the cord in 2015 than the year previous.  Over at the Huffington Post, they are reporting that nearly 25% of all households are cable free now.

I’ll be honest I’m not surprised.  It’s what I’ve been saying all along.  The price and convenience are too good to pass up.  This isn’t a fad or trend, this is the market of television consumption for the foreseeable future.  If you’re a content provider, network or internet provider, take note and make a plan.  You’re future is depending on how you find your niche in the next few years.

The one surprise though I found, was that the rate of cable cutting is higher in Canada than in the United States.  I have nothing to explain it, except for my own hypothesis that a good part of cable cutting, is the feeling of protest and taking back power from Bell and Rogers.  Just my theory, but I’m sticking with it for now.

And then Twitter goes and changes the playing field…but not if you live in Canada.

A screenshot of Detroit Lions vs the San Fransisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers vs the Detroit Lions. One of many games you might be able to see this upcoming season via Twitter, unless you live in Canada. (Via the BBC)

This is short and sweet to write.  If you’re a sports fan but are concerned you’re going to lose out on live sports if you cut the cord, then you’re going to want to read this entry:

On Tuesday of this week, Twitter announced a landmark deal with the NFL to live stream Thursday night games.  You can read about it here.

Unfortunately because we live in Canada, Rogers has exclusive rights to broadcast the NFL, and therefore will block any Canadian twitter users from viewing the games.  The Globe and Mail has a write up about it here.

I applaud Twitter and the NFL for embracing change.  This is the future and if it succeeds I wouldn’t be surprised if other major sports leagues find other unique and interesting partnerships to broadcast their games on in the near future.

As for Rogers and the NFL agreeing not to broadcast the games via Twitter, I think it shows you that the problem in Canada isn’t so much the technology or knowledge of the medium.  It’s more the legality and the monopoly Bell and Rogers have developed over the last half decade in this country.  It’s making them slow to embrace change and to start charting a course for where they want to be in the 21st century.

There is money in the future

An image of the menu screen from an Apple TV
An Apple TV menu screen, courtesy of the CBC website.

I’m giving credit where credit is due on this entry.  Fellow blogger Rikki Firth sent me the link that sparked this post.  If you’re a dog lover, you can follow her blog about her dog Buddy here.

She sent me a great article from the Huffington Post.  Basically it states how the trend of cord-cutting is rising in millennials.  As well as the rising number of people who could qualify for being cord-nevers.  That got me thinking and I searched for comparable Canadian information and found this nifty little article from the CBC.

I’m not surprised at the number of millennials who are looking to get their TV fix via streaming services.  What I am amazed at, is how many of them will say they will pay a monthly fee to Netflix or HBO for high quality content.  In America, there seems to be more and more anecdotal evidence that the big broadcast companies are embracing this emerging format to view television.  The movement is growing towards quality over quantity.  No one is demanding to have 900 channels any more.  No one has the time.  Instead consumers have been saying, we only have time for a few hours a week of television.  We want to spend it watching something worthwhile.

This would be a lesson that Bell and Rogers should quickly learn if they want to remain relevant for the next century.

For those less technically inclined…

In my research into cable cutting, I’ve come across an interesting industry that is just sprouting.  While I decided to dive in headfirst so to speak into cable cutting and getting this to work on my terms, I understand my story is somewhat unique.  Judging from responses on my blog, as well as private conversations, it’s clear that there is a big appetite for cable cutting among Canadian consumers.  However, there is also a lot of questions about how to do it.  I agree it can seem to be daunting if you’re not technically inclined in the slightest.

In true capitalist fashion however, where there is demand, there will be supply.  So a number of Canadian entrepreneurs have decided to help their fellow Canucks cut their cable cords:


The Antenna Guys

The Man Cave Cinema (They win prizes for most original name)

I’ll put this caveat in here though.  I haven’t personally used any of these services and do not endorse them.  However, for any readers who are curious to join the growing trend, this might a good place to start.


A Hidden Perk of Cable Cutting

I have to give credit to my wife for this entry.  Of course a big benefit of cutting your cable is being able to stream television shows with no commercial interuptions.  It’s just nothing but entertainment.

This has allowed my wife and I to sort of live in a social experiment of our own creating by accident.  We’ve noticed that our three year old daughter isn’t as influenced by major brands as we were when we were children.  This was the most prevalent when one night when we were both short for time and had a busy night planned, as most families these days do.  We decided on McDonalds for dinner and asked our daughter what she’d like.  She said she didn’t want anything.  Yep, read that again, I’ll wait.

We noticed it’s not just McDonald’s but other brands as well.  The result is we as parents have regained a lot of control over what we allow our child to be exposed to.  As this trend builds up steam over the next few years, we will have an entire generation that will not be faced with television ads.  What this means for the future, and branding and marketing remains to be seen.  I do believe though, it’s a sign we are looking at the death of traditional marketing.

Live TV without cable…how’s that working so far?

Screenshot of Kodi add ons
A screenshot of Kodi

So this came up a few posts ago.  Namely, once I cut my cable subscription, how did I watch live TV?  I thought I’d follow up with an update on how my exploration of my Android box has come along.

Going online to I researched around to find some great addons to configure and load onto my Kodi app for my Android box.  You can find the updated list here.

Another app that you can download exclusively for Android is Mobdro.  Long story short, it’s a great easy to use app for live television around the world.  Including Canadian sports channels more importantly Sportsnet, so I gets to watch my Blue Jays all season long.

So having been able to dive back into the cable pool every now and again, it’s interesting to compare live tv with tv streaming.  I can honestly tell you, I do not miss live tv at all.  While I enjoy watching the Jays on their way to a World Series title this year (yeah I’m calling it this early), I hate having to wait for commerical breaks.

In the future, I’d love to see a subscription app, to live sporting and other events that takes away commercials.

One can dream.


Why is it so hard to find Canadian content online?

Many critics and commentators are saying we’re in the golden age of television.  I for one have to agree with them.  In the last fifteen years, we’ve seen some pretty revolutionary television being produced.  Television that tests new story telling techniques, complex story plots, character development.  These are the hallmarks of successful television today.

Look at the Emmy winners for the past ten years:

2005 – Lost

2006 – 24

2007 – The Sopranos

2008 to 2011 – Mad Men

2012 – Homeland

2013 & 2014 – Breaking Bad

2015 – Game of Thrones

This list can of course be debated.  I’m sure you’re reading it and thinking some are worthy, some aren’t.  You might be thinking you’ve seen better television produced.  Feel free to post your list in the comments below.  My point though, is that it is far easier to debate the merits of a television show today.  There is so much great content being produced south of the border for all genres, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

Which now makes me look around Canada and ask, where is the great Canadian equivalent?  Take a look here at a list of top Canadian tv shows being followed online.  Seven out of twelve are no longer producing new shows.  It’s indicative of how our television industry has failed to live up to viewer’s expectations.  Three years ago, John Doyle wrote this column in the Globe and Mail.  We didn’t do well then with originality.  It appears that three years later, we aren’t any better.  Instead our industry cries to the CRTC about the need for protective tariffs and tax benefits to protect their monopolies all in the name of a ‘level playing field’.

The argument isn’t on how best to divide up tax dollars.  It’s now a basic free market one.  Produce the best content you can, and compete for customers alongside everyone else.



Canada vs America

So coming off my last post, I thought that I’d showcase the striking differences between Canadian and American television.  Namely that American television as a whole is taking a lot more chances than Canadian.  So to accomplish that I’d show you a clip of each best drama winner.

The first is for the Canadian Screen Awards winner of best drama in 2015.  A show called 19-2:

The second is for the 2015 Emmy winner for best dramatic series, Better Call Saul:

I’ll leave this as it is with only this added commentary.  In Canada, our best television show is yet another forumulaic cop drama.  Whereas in America, they’ve declared a series devoted to the examination and origin of one of the most original characters on television ever created.

We can do better.

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