Blog Entries from the WeHuntSC.com blogging crew
In the most recent news and events we?ve seen how countries in the Middle East have used, and are using, Twitter, Facebook, & YouTube to organize, communicate, and overthrow governments, regimes, and dictators. The internet has increased social connectivity and is changing the fabric of many cultures around us. The same principle of technology being used to change the dominant narrative within a society parallels a shift currently going on within the outdoor industry.
Narrowing the focus, I?m specifically talking about how online video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo are changing the outdoor industry as they relate to hunting and fishing TV shows. What change you ask? Well, it?s not quite so evident yet, but as technology becomes more integrated into the lives of outdoorsmen it will become more noticeable. To further investigate this notion let?s look at the current dominant narrative, the disruption, and the resulting model that is arising out of the disruption.
The Dominant Narrative Currently, hunting and fishing TV shows are watched by many outdoorsmen on networks like the Outdoor Channel, ESPN Outdoors, the Pursuit Channel, Versus, and other networks similar in programming. These shows consist of quality footage, professional editing, and action packed content. The TV shows are fun to watch and they set the bar high for what trophy animals are in the outdoor world, they introduce new products, and give informative tips to the viewing audience. Many of these TV shows are made possible via the contributions of sponsors and other organizations that have a vested financial interest in the success of these shows. The sponsors and networks also have a financial interest in the success of the personalities they spend tons of marketing money creating. These shows reach their target audience sitting on a couch in a living room taking in the action?and yes, I?m an audience member too! This is the model that we have grown accustomed to expect and accept.
The positives for this model are obvious?quality content delivered directly to the target audience. However, there are some drawbacks to this model as well that can easily go unnoticed. Some flaws for this model are:
Cost - To have a show you must have financial backing or support from sponsors. Essentially it takes money to produce, edit, and buy the air time for the show. Thus, the need for financial backing from sponsors is never-ending. This model means you have to have money in order to have a show, to have your products(s) featured on a show, or to be a personality on a show. This model is expensive and makes it difficult for budding entrepreneurs and smaller organizations to get product placement in these ?prime time? shows. The barrier created by the necessary financial backing is a strong deterrent for many trying to ?break in? to the industry whether they have product(s), talent, or wisdom they aspire to share with the outdoor world. Many really neat products or bits of knowledge have never received high amounts of exposure simply because the people behind them couldn?t foot the bill to get publicity on this level of shows. It?s an understandable dynamic and it?s also becoming an outdated one.
No Exposure for Grass Roots Hunters ? Do you know someone in your local area who is an avid or exceptional hunter? I do and I also know that their knowledge and experiences could make for some good TV material?or at least content good enough to draw interest in the outdoor community. In the current model, these exceptional, local hunters won?t get much exposure. I also know some guys who were pushing to have their own hunting show on TV, but they eventually gave up as they couldn?t get enough financial backing to make it possible. The current model within the outdoor TV show industry makes it nearly impossible for grass-roots hunters to get exposure and promote their ways of hunting or fishing, their knowledge, and wisdom.
Authenticity ? In today?s society we seek authenticity...realness? and we can easily pick up on it when something or someone doesn?t seem to be 100% real. It?s not that hunters on TV are viewed as fake, but we, in the back of our minds, always think that these guys are hunting on a ranch somewhere or that they?re hunting in a pen. Whether they are or not is yours to decide. I?m sure you?ve heard outdoorsmen talking about how their hunting/fishing experiences ?aren?t like the hunting/fishing you see on TV? and this statement alludes to the notion that outdoor TV shows don?t accurately represent real life examples that they experience during hunting or fishing season. Whether the outdoor show is 100% real or not, the perception of the viewer often times leans towards the less authentic side of the argument. And as you know, perception is reality.
Lack of Availability & Sharing ? TV shows run on a schedule. You can easily figure this out by looking on your program guide in the newspaper or on your network?s program guide. You can also record programs and watch them at a later time. These are neat features for TV, but it still lacks in a few areas. You can?t watch these programs on a mobile device as easily. You can?t ?like? or ?share? or embed or search for and easily find these videos so that you can effortlessly share them with others. If the shows aren?t seen on TV then they?re not as easily accessible for viewing. Sharing and searching is out of the question as well in the current model.
The Disruption Enter YouTube and Vimeo. In this day and age anybody with a video camera can easily post videos for the world to see. The ability to document events on video and post them online has caused drastic changes in the way we communicate and share videos and media.
The videos posted on YouTube & Vimeo reach their target audience wherever they are via their mobile devices, Iphones, Droids, Ipads, Galaxy Tabs, computers, etc. We can consume these videos at work or at home. Though, the target audience for consumption of these videos is a mobile generation that?s constantly on the move, has a short attention span, is accustomed to interacting with media, and spends more time online than they do watching TV.
The online videos are instantly searchable, shareable, ?likeable?, embeddable, measurable, and they have the ability to go viral very quickly. These features are the same features that TV lacks. The new generations of hunters are pushing this disruption and in doing so are contributing, video by video, to the paradigm shift that is being observed. The end result will be a new, blended model in the way outdoorsmen consume videos and consequently a new way for marketers to reach their target audiences will be created along with the possibility for anyone to become a well known outdoorsmen.
The New Shifted Model The new model for video content consumpetion will consist of a blend of hunting TV shows that air on networks as well as prominent hunters who present their video content in an online, shareable, searchable, measurable, and ratable format. This new blended model has several benefits for many involved in this industry. Some of those benefits are:
More authentic/genuine content ? There is just something about a home video that gives an authentic feel. Whether it?s the bloopers or bumps of the cameras or moments of unsteady handling, when I view one of these videos I feel like the video is genuine. I feel like I have something in common with the person shooting the video and that common link is that the creator of this video is an everyday hunter/fisher just like me. It may just be me, but I feel that I can identify more with someone a few miles down the road from me with a hand-held camera than I can with someone hunting in a distant state harvesting deer/turkeys that are unrealistic animals for my area. This new, blended model will give me both types of content that I can consume. I can see the fancy editing and high-dollar product placement on TV as well as being able to see online content that I feel I can identify with on a greater level.
Cheaper marketing of sponsoring organizations - Along with working with ?big names? in the hunting TV show industry, sponsoring organizations will become more open to working with grass-roots hunters to have their products featured in their YouTube and Vimeo videos. Why would an organization reach out to the ?good old boys? who post YouTubes & Vimeos? They will do this for several reasons with the main one being that the cost will be much cheaper while the reach will become much further. Instead of having to pay for air time, editing, production, and backing high-costing TV personalities, organizations will easily save money and also work with local hunters to feature their products in the blogs and/or videos of the grass-roots outdoorsmen. They may donate products to these hunters or work some agreement up for promotions, but whatever they do will be cheaper for them than what they?re currently doing. The smaller entrepreneurs will start to jump on this and will start reaching the grass roots hunters and will cover ground in this arena earlier than the large organizations will because it is initially more attractive to them. The big boys will be a little behind, but they will catch up once they take note of the shift and start operating in the new blended model. Also, initiating change within a large organization takes more time so it will take the larger organizations more time to adjust.
Large organizations and smaller entrepreneurs will now both be able to benefit by receiving publicity and promotions from this new, blended model. Since viewers of the next generations will increasingly seek authentic videos from people they can identify with ?and will access the content where they spend most of their time (online)? the new generation of consumers will lean more toward online video than they will hunting TV shows. When consumers change where they?re viewing their media then so will the location of marketing change somewhat for the sponsors and organizations promoting products.
Increasing quality of videos - When hunters start understanding the ripple effects of the new, blended model they will start producing higher quality home videos. Just look at what has taking place on our site within this past year. Hunters are now carrying video cameras in the woods and are commentating while they video when possible. The videos submitted by our site users and bloggers are getting better all the time as well (and so are the available tools for creating videos). Hunters are spending more time documenting and editing the videos from their hunts. Current video editing software allows for some great, creative videos in the end. Over time more and more hunters will have better software and will produce higher quality videos and they will post them online! Organizations are noticing and are starting to donate products for our bloggers to field test and blog about. It?s cheap for them and the grass-roots outdoorsmen directly interface with the audience they want to reach which, in our case, is the audience of our fellow outdoorsmen here on the site!
Increased Exposure for Grass Roots Hunters ? Through these video sharing sites, local hunters will have an avenue to share their stories. In the new, blended model hunters will easily be able to reach greater size audiences (at the audience?s convenience too). The barrier for getting exposure will no longer be determined by the amount of financial backing that you can obtain from sponsors. Because of this increased level of content sharing hunting, knowledge, and wisdom will be more readily available. In short, anyone can create a YouTube or Vimeo channel and begin building their credibility and reputation online. Just go to Derek?s YouTube channel and tell me that you don?t see content that is intriguing to you?and this will happen to a whole generation of outdoorsmen who are figuring this out just like we are.
Ease of Availability - A TV show may air a couple of times. A YouTube/Vimeo video will always be there and is accessible 24-7. It?s way more convenient to find a video via Google search at your leisure than it is to find a TV show and be present when it airs or either DVR it and watch it later. Another intriguing fact about online video is the possibility for the video to ?go viral? and quickly circulate the net. Users can access these vides on any device and can connect from virtually any location. Its real time and it?s social and it?s easy.
More easily measurable ? Video views are quickly and easily measurable. I know TV shows have the Nielsen ratings and other methods of finding out viewer stats, but seeing how many views a video has on YouTube or Vimeo is way more easily accessible than waiting for ratings to come out and find out how many people watched a specific show. The view count on YouTube & Vimeo is as close to real-time insight as one can get. The ?view-count? on each video is a direct signal as to the visibility an outdoorsman is receiving and it?s easily available to both the sponsors and the hunters. The transparency reveals the truth and the stats can?t be manipulated. These quick and easy metrics help sponsoring organizations make an easy assessment of the value of working with various outdoorsmen.
Conclusion Don?t mistake what I?m saying here? I don?t think hunting shows are going to end because I think there?s a place and demand for them. I?m just saying that over time they won?t be in as high of demand. I think this change will become more evident in the coming years, but you can see it happening already if you simply look around. Just look on YouTube and search for hunting or fishing videos and you?ll see a ton of outdoorsmen having their own ?shows? via their YouTube or Vimeo Channels. Outdoorsmen are picking up on it and the sponsors are slowly starting to as well and they should!
What means more to you?? seeing someone on TV shoot a deer/turkey on a ranch in a distant state or seeing one of your fellow South Carolinians bag a good buck or turkey on a YouTube video?
The shift has begun.