While the world of media spends incalculable hours debating the future of cable and broadcast TV, a generation of media-centric kids is growing up hardly knowing what cable is.
So, rather than use my childhood and adult experiences with media, I thought I might find a willing subject to talk about their relationship with the world's largest "TV" service.
Of course, I mean YouTube, and my tour guide through the new world of "on demand" web TV is my 12- year-old son, Murray.
Murray is an excellent student, musician, athlete, and all around great kid. He doesn't watch what I think of as TV at all. No cable, no broadcast, not even any Hulu or Netflix. His video diet is 100 percent YouTube.
I began with an easy question.
Steve Rosenbaum: Do You Watch TV?
Murray Rosenbaum: "My immediate answer is no. I watch news, autotuned by schmoyoho. Just to add a new perspective on it. TV isn't going to be around much longer. Because of those way too long commercial breaks. As opposed to this..." (he points to text ads on a YouTube page) "...even those these are still annoying, you can still get rid of them. It's not like you sit through 10 min commercial break -- five minutes of your show -- and then another 10 minute commercial break. "
SR: OK, so what exactly is a "YouTuber"?
MR: "So, let's go to product point of view and work your way down. YouTube is a website where you can put up any video you want and have your own channel. YouTubers are anyone with a channel. The Top10 YouTubers are the ones that are most popular, but really it's anyone who's created a video and has a channel."
SR: And what does he watch? Comedy? News?
MR: "Well you know the elections just passed, and Christine O'Donnel, the "I'm not a witch" ad campaign -- well Schmoyoho auto-tuned it. They collaborated with Weazer; Weazer did a whole YouTube thing. (He plays a video of the Band Weazer with "don't leave me swinging in the wind" with lyrics and vocals by Congressman Charles Rangel.) The fact that they can take four minutes of news that no one was going to remember, and turn it into something people are going to remember. Well, skillz -- they haz 'em."
OK, I'm trying to compare Murray's world of Web video to my 12-year-old world of TV. I was watching Batman, Gilligan's Island, and Get Smart. He's watching politicians and news reports, re-cut to a dance beat and edited for both amusement and satirical commentary. Oh, and just so you don't think he's alone -- Charlie Rangle's duet with Weazer has been viewed more than two and a half million times.
When he's not watching Auto-Tune The News, he's a big fan of another YouTuber: Mystery Guitar Man.
Take a look at this one LINK -- to get a sense both of what he does, and how he includes viewers in the process of making and sharing and sponsoring his videos.
While we've all been busy talking about the "future" of TV, kids and YouTube have already gone and built it. Interactive, Inexpensive, and Engaging.
YouTubers are to our kids, what networks were to us. And it's going to get even smaller fast. So tune in, check it out, and figure out where shows like Mystery Guitar Man leave mainstream media and advertising. But do it quick.
If you only watch one -- watch this one: Desert Duel. (viewed almost 2 million times. See if you can catch the product placement.)
Some Additional Links (If you want to check out more YouTubers):
Driving. Stripping. Swinging.
Added: September 12, 2010 | 2,543,927 views
Rents Too Damn High
Added: November 05, 2010 | 1,944,450 views
Steven Rosenbaum is a curator, author, filmmaker and entrepreneur. He is the CEO of Magnify.net, a Realtime Video Curation engine for publishers, brands, and Websites. His book "Curation Nation" is slated to be published this spring by McGrawHill Business. Follow him on Twitter @magnify