In the television business, there’s a lot of focus on the individualization of the media landscape. Nielsen recently noted “today, content is delivered and consumed through competing delivery platforms, networks and screens. Never before have we seen this level of fragmentation.” Amid this talk of fragmentation, there’s the undercurrent of individualism: everyone wants to experience media in their own way, on their own time. But is this individualism really what will drive media consumption in the future? I think not.
What will drive media consumption in 2015 and beyond is the opportunity media offers to be a part of a larger community.
Human beings are social animals. From the time our earliest ancestors walked the earth, they gathered together and told stories around the fire. More recently, we’ve gathered around the television to share our collective experience. For more than a half century, the box in the living room has served as our electronic hearth. It has given us a place to congregate during moments of triumph and moments of tragedy. Now, we’re gathering around iPads and Xboxes and computer screens. But people are still driven by those same social instincts.
The brands that will do the best in 2015 will recognize this human need to be a part of something larger than themselves, to participate in a bigger community.
Bringing people together to build community isn’t new, but it’s certainly a growing business. I think it’s safe to say that when Tina Brown leaves to run a live-events business, there’s something going on. Attendance at live conference events is growing exponentially. Last year, more than 130,000 people attended ComicCon in San Diego. Conferences “promoting women’s empowerment are on the rise.” And of course, there’s SXSW, which has meant big business for the Austin area, with an estimated $1 billion economic impact over the last five years alone. That’s becausepeople want to come together, to interact with others who share their passion.
So here’s my prediction: in 2015, forward looking companies will increasingly focus on building communities. Mass media will return to its social roots. Successful companies will leverage the power of new platforms to build online and live communities, bringing people together to share in experiences and events. Amid all of the choices in the media landscape, people will still be driven by the human urge to participate in something bigger than themselves, and the companies that will flourish will build on this.
2015 will be the year of “community."