Within a decade, these audiences will be demanding the ability to work with brands to create a choice of outcomes and story arcs for their entertainment of choice.
No, it was the sight of scores of Generation Z teens FaceTime-ing their mates so that they could be part of a big entertainment moment that they hadn’t been lucky enough to get an actual ticket for.
That little glittering galaxy of laughing faces on screens, singing along in real time to every song from the comfort of their sofas at home, encapsulated how tomorrow’s dominant consumer generation will insist on engaging with entertainment, and how they will change the entertainment industry in the process.
The Future Laboratory’s research suggests that this is a demographic that will become more and more militant in the years ahead about using their mobile technology to be part of entertainment action, rather than being prepared to sit passively while the action is broadcast to them by an all-powerful broadcaster or platform.
Influencer culture is spawning a youth audience that will increasingly act as Content Conduits, becoming peer-to-peer guides to their friends – and their social media audience – to what is new and best in entertainment. As The Media Briefing said recently, 60% of under-25s in the UK stream a new film or series primarily because their friends love it.
The logical evolution of group viewing decisions will be a growing belief that you and your mates, as the Styles moment demonstrated, should be in among the entertainment from anywhere, at any time – and indeed that you should be able to influence its direction because you all like it so much.
Within a decade, these audiences will be demanding the ability to work with brands to create a choice of outcomes and story arcs for their entertainment of choice. As Jeroen Elfferich, co-founder of interactive entertainment pioneers Ex Machina, says: ‘There will be a renaissance of entertainment and factual programming, designed not just to be passively consumed, but with participation at its core.
‘We will see new video experiences in which people are consuming, interacting and affecting the outcome.’
Generation Z’s fictional entertainment expectations will bleed over into the way they engage with factual programming too. Received news from an authority figure anchor will be replaced by interactive Citizen Journalism, with audiences expecting to talk directly to journalists involved in breaking stories, and to influence the point of view of the coverage, and even the developing lines of enquiry.