Working together – why a blossoming relationship between TV and the internet is the key to youth entertainment

Young browsers: internet use among children is on the increaseHave you ever been to a farm and smelt milk recently squirted out of a cow?

Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about online content again. Bear with me.

According to Ofcom, 12-15 year olds now spend as much time online as they do watching TV. Well, yes. Only — hold on — that’s a total of 35 hours a week, or an average of five hours a day. Hmm. The equivalent of 1900-midnight every day, at least? No consoles, no hanging out with friends? Hmm, how do they fit it all in? The reality is, they don’t. 

What the statistics don’t show, but what logically follows, is possibly even more interesting: there simply aren’t that many hours available for looking at screens. It isn’t a case of “TV time” versus “computer time” but both; concurrent viewing. You could call concurrent viewing “diluted attention,” but I’d more accurately call it “having the TV on the background.” If there was a battle between the old passive and this new more sophisticated viewing method, the personalised screen is going to win.

TV executives shouldn’t be worried, because TV remains absolutely fabulous at driving huge spikes of attention, and it’s a massive opportunity to re-invent their business model, but that’s really easy for me to say and not what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about unpasteurised milk.

Unpasteurised milk changes by the second, it cools down quickly, it’s amazing fresh, it contains viruses, it stinks a bit and no-one has much control over what’s in it. It’s delicious. It’s how it used to be, a long time ago.

In other words, it’s exactly like the flow of ideas and content on the devices belonging to 12-15 year-olds, which feels much more like a barney in the pit at Shakespeare’s Globe in 1605 than people shouting at the telly in 2012. The makers of that content — Shakespeare and his mob — weren’t the only thing the audiences turned up for. Banter with the performers and among the audience were a huge part of the attraction — maybe the heart of the attraction.

I believe you can’t consider online video, audio or games apart from the stinky, live context in which it’ll be consumed. They’re one and the same.

Unpasteurised content is a little more chaotic, certainly, but who wants the safe option when the fresh stuff is available?

Paul Bennun is Chief Creative Officer of Somethin’ Else.