I am delighted to be joined by three amazing content pioneers to hear their predictions for how our world of content entrepreneurship will change during 2023.
In 2022, Derren Lawford founded DARE Pictures, a transnational TV and Film company dedicated to creating impactful documentaries, drama and film. Prior to DARE Pictures, Derren was Creative Director at Woodcut Media overseeing editorial strategy and executive producing a trio of documentaries sold to Netflix.
At the BBC he executive produced the ground-breaking multi-genre series, Jail Tales, directed by Jamal Edwards, hosted by Ashley Walters and starring Daniel Kaluuya.
Miles and Tom Angell run ANGELL BROTHERS - a creative studio using audience investment & participation to develop, produce and self-distribute original entertainment brands.
Miles is a TV developer/ producer by trade, who developed unscripted formats, including Masked Singer UK, Test Drive and Sex Tape.
Tom has spent his career in the creative departments of advertising agencies, fashion houses and music companies, developing content campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands. He is also the author of the acclaimed book London Tattoo Guide.
And here are my predictions which we will also dig into:
On the call, I’ll also be discussing our plans for Creatorville's very first Entrepreneurs' Rural Retreat.
I would love your suggestions and ideas about how we can make this invite-only event something really special.
Forget pitching to streamers - Why influencers are the new commissioners
As the world of content entrepreneurship evolves, it is clear that mega-influencers are the current kings and queens of the hill.
We know from Axios that the world’s top YouTuber Mr Beast has reportedly been seeking investment into his business at a valuation of $1.5 billion.
To put that into context, earlier this year Enders valued the UK’s public broadcaster Channel 4 at somewhere between £600 million and £1.5 billion ($743 million and $1.86 billion).
Now that Channel 4's privatisation has been cancelled, it isn't such a convenient comparison.
But, the fact that Mr Beast's YouTube channels and associated brands could have a higher valuation than a 40-year-old television broadcaster - which turns over around $1.5 billion each year - is remarkable.
The future-facing investment money in video is now firmly focused on a small group of top creators.
If you are one of these YouTube stars, you have several challenges:
- You are a personality, not a business
- You are not trained in content production at scale
- You have no commercial department
- You have no support network
- Your audience is fickle and can quickly disappear
So - a number of top creators have built in-house production units into their businesses.
And Dude Perfect has just announced a studio project - worth $100m - to house their hefty production team.
However, it’s not all about large in-house production teams and voluminous studio resources.
Top creators from TikTok and YouTube are using experienced third-party production companies to deliver critical projects.
Afterparty Studios was hired to deliver the Sidemen Charity Football match in 2022 - which had 2.5 million concurrent live viewers.
Objekt films were commissioned to make TikTok sensation Francis Bourgeois’ recent YouTube film with doc legend Louis Theroux.
And Spirit Studios have a wildly successful partnership with Jamie Laing, making some of the most successful podcasts coming out of the UK. And as well as making hit TV series like The Stand Up Sketch Show for ITV, they make THE BIG SWING PODCAST with me, too.
Many agencies and management companies are stepping in to help influencers with commercial deals, like Jordan Schwarzenberger and his colleagues at Arcade Media who look after The Sidemen.
Offline groups of YouTubers are being quietly assembled so that influencers can get peer support from each other.
And in terms of audience retention, the most successful influencers are turning to television for inspiration.
It’s becoming clear that the battleground for big success on YouTube and beyond is evolving into who has the best TV-style formats.
Mr Beast et al have shown that you can draw remarkable viewing numbers by harnessing the power of huge-scale, TV-esque stunts and challenges.
As we know, he spent 4.2 million dollars to produce an episode of Squid Game in real life.
And Netflix has commissioned something remarkably similar from two British TV production companies.
But the use of TV-style formats by successful influencers isn’t brand new - and is fast becoming the de-facto way to build on YouTube.
Check out this amazing episode of YouTuber BeardMeetsFood (2.7m subs) heading to Wales to eat a ridiculously large meal:
Seems somewhat similar to Man vs Food - a successful TV show from back in the day:
And it’s not just BeardMeetsFood - check out Randy Santel (1.5m subs) attempting the “Toughest Steak Challenge I've Ever Tried!! Undefeated 60oz Scottish Rump Steak Challenge!!”
I love a travel challenge as much as the next man.
And The Sidemen have nailed it with their latest - a race across Belgium!
It reminded me very much of some amazing specials by the Top Gear / Grand Tour original man group - particularly this episode where they race across… France:
I can't work out if REALITY HOUSE (season three), is like Big Brother, Love Island or is a combination of the two:
And, as you’d expect, those legendary HGTV property shows have been a source of inspiration too…
So, how does this all play out?
Well, producers that make great TV shows for broadcast, cable and streamers - keep doing what you do. You have the marketplace sewn up tight.
But those producers looking to change things up? Who understand younger audiences? Who care about the new generation of incredible talent?
Stop pitching your shows to TV, and start making them for influencers.
You know how to create great formats that delight large audiences.
You know how to deliver brilliant shows on time and on budget.
And, you can help overwhelmed influencers who have incredible reach and opportunity but are bogged down with too much to do.
For entrepreneurial producers, Influencers are the new commissioners.
Why we turned down commissioners' millions to fund our own films: John McKenna, Noah Media
John is my special guest on this week’s episode of THE BIG SWING PODCAST.
He is a pioneer of premium sports documentaries, having profiled Arsene Wenger and the Invincibles for Prime Video, Jack Charlton for the BBC and Bobby Robson for Netflix.
But after a bad experience with his debut feature doc - which was selected for competition at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, but then was a commercial failure - John founded Noah Media and began to figure out an alternative funding model for his work.
Check out the moment John decided to turn down a full commission:
And when Noah Media won the right to produce 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible, John knew he had something special.
Could he use this hard-won access to break free of commissioning, to self-fund this huge feature doc, and then sell it to the highest bidder?
Well, to hear John's remarkable journey from being a tape librarian at Euro '96, all the way to running Noah Media, a pioneering media and technology business, please check out our full conversation when it drops on Saturday at 1900 GMT... subscribe to the podcast here, or come back here and watch the full episode below:
Hands up if you are fed up with working from home…
I meet leaders of creative businesses all the time.
And the one thing they are all agreed on right now is that they want their creatives back in the room together - in real life.
It’s a rare consensus that people don’t do their best creative work alone.
And this report in the Times helps explain the science.
I have worked remotely since 2010.
But I ensured that I spent around half of my time in the office with other people.
Asking people to return to the office five days a week might not go down too well - but bringing the band back together for three days a week is likely to change everything for the better.
Have a great weekend, and don't forget to join me: