Unless you have a son or daughter between the ages of five and 12, chances are you don’t know Joseph Garrett (AKA Stampy Cat). No, he’s not the next teen pop sensation. In fact, he’s even bigger than that. When it comes to YouTube views, the BBC recently commented that UK-based Garrett is now more popular than Bieber; his videos get about 30M views a week.
The twenty-something star spends his days showing millions of kids how to build in Minecraft, the popular virtual world that inspires players to get creative using blocks. The four-year-old game continues to outperform most new titles, reaching a total of about 54 million units sold across all platforms.
“Because he makes so much cool stuff in Minecraft.” That’s my five-year-old telling me why he’s a Stampy fan. Sounds simple enough, but at the core, the impact that Garrett and his YouTube colleagues are having on the television industry is much more complicated. Not only are they building audiences of die-hard fans (not just viewers), they also represent a shift in how the next generation consumes content.
This is a shift from passive viewing to active viewing. While my generation might want to sit back to zone out, today’s children want to sit back and zone in. Although it might be a dirty term for some traditional broadcasts, at the core of this growing trend is an appetite to learn. Kids teaching other kids things we adults can’t teach them.
Heck, maybe we’re too busy to understand any of this since we too are caught up in our own content flux.
Consider Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2014 Report. “You Screen, I Screen, We All Screen,” she writes. “Internet TV is replacing linear TV.” Furthermore, Meeker finds that 84% of mobile device owners use their phones while watching television. In Stampy’s world, the context is entirely different; the fans aren’t just surfing away on devices while he’s entertaining them, they’re building alongside him as a community of collaborators.
What does this mean for all of us in the content industry? Well, for starters, we have a lot to learn about the future of TV since we’re not (yet!) the ones creating it. As the Executive Producer and Host of nextMEDIA 3.0, we’re working hard to bring you an event that puts this disruption into perspective and keeps us all moving forward in an effort to monetize content in today’s digital world – a world that includes Stampy Cat and many more content innovators just like him.