VidCon fans on how TikTok is changing the fun

When super fans talk, Hollywood has to listen.

The entertainment economy is increasingly relying on the demonstration of super fans, the built-in audience that makes it plausible for the studio to take a nine-figure swing in a movie or TV entertainment franchise. To catch the pulse of some of the most engaged media fans, I ventured to Anaheim, California, last week for VidCon, the annual gathering for fans of YouTubers, TikTokers, Twitch personalities, and other digital, social, and gaming media extensions. These are hardcore fans who will spend real money to attend a four-day conference lined with panels and meeting and meeting opportunities.

I had a hunch that these were probably going to be the most important conversations I had throughout the year in terms of understanding where the entertainment was going. I was not disappointed.

Of course, this generation and their older siblings no longer watch old-fashioned television. I wanted to hear directly from some of the most furious users of this emerging form of content that powers YouTube and the social media machine. I wanted to learn more about how TikTok and others have shifted TV viewing to a generation that has never known a world without smartphones. Do they watch in prime time? How do they discover new personalities? How do they move in their social feeds?

The answers struck me. I spoke with 10 randomly selected small groups of VidCon visitors at the Anaheim Convention Center. This is by no means a scientific sample, but it is enlightening. Each group was dedicated to their own custom esoteric fandom. One thing Hollywood needs to know, which is consistent in each group: Most of what they “become” deep down is produced and monetized entirely outside the mass entertainment giants that dominate traditional television and movies. It’s a world of fans who actively support creators – and yes, so-called creators – through merchandise and direct subscription sales.

As you will hear, at this point it is important for Hollywood to understand that this growing consumer cohort expects to have a very different kind of relationship with the creators they embrace. They were also extremely generous with their time and eager to talk about their media consumption habits.

Here is a sample:

About the difference between watching TV and TikTok:

Jamie, 18, from the Minneapolis area: “Well, with television, you know, you play a show and you like it, and maybe by the end of the day, it’s like you’re falling asleep. With TikTok, it’s definitely different because you just go, scroll and scroll and scroll. And the next thing, you know, it’s like 3 o’clock in the morning and you’re still watching TikTok. “

Regarding the attractiveness of the following internet-based creators against TV series:

Brin, 19, from Southern California: “You watch these creators, for example, who put their own personality and their own personality the way they want to be in order to present themselves, while if you watch a TV show, then you will be like watching an actor, a hero like someone else. So I think it’s easier to fall in love with who this person really is. And exactly what they have to bring to the world. I think that’s really cool. “

About the importance of the fan community that grows around the creators:

Halia, 19, from Colorado: “It becomes like a really big community, because then you find other people through it, like other people who see the same things. And then you find your best friends. Then you want to meet the people who did these things because they made you happy. So you’re like, let me tell you, it made me happy. “

About how people discover new creators to follow:

Emma, ​​18, from the Minneapolis area: “I think you only see one video or you like a compilation of them. And you just find them. They are like their profiles. And you go from there and [it’s] something like a domino effect. Do you see one thing? You go to more and more. Yes, then you find yourself here [at VidCon.]”

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(Pictured: Fans listen to a panel session with Internet creators of VidCon on June 23, 2022)

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