Some of the most prolific Canadian broadcasters Canadians have ever known since the beginnings of widespread television in the 1950s have fallen prey to YouTube’s seven-year rise in terms of Canadian content production.
Google’s Jacob Glick, who does Senior Policy Counsel for Canada, said at Canada 3.0 that Canadian content has had huge runaway success online. That shouldn’t come as a surprise; we spend more time on the Internet than any other country in the world.
In fact, Canadian content is so successful that it is shaping global discourse according to Glick. He even said that more content has been uploaded to YouTube by Canadians than CBC and CTV combined have produced since the 1950s—in just over seven short years—for the number three most trafficked Internet property in the world.
Therefore, the long standing notion that Canadian content cannot compete with American content may not be said for very long anymore, especially in a somewhat borderless digital world.
Shaftesbury Films has transformed their company into a leading developer, producer, and distributor of the highest-quality entertainment for worldwide television and multiple-platform exploitation. Christina Jennings, a Canadian Genie and Gemini award winner, and also the Chairman and co-CEO of Shaftesbury Films, said that she repeatedly reminds her staff to stop thinking like television content producers.
Jennings said on a panel called “In 2012 the Content, Not The Medium, Is The Message” that she doesn’t make a show without second or third screen experiences anymore. She continued in saying that in digital she doesn’t even need traditional broadcasters but just a number of platforms across the web or devices such as smartphones and tablets.
The company was uniquely behind the vision for Totally Amp’d, an appisodes series for the iPad, iPhone, and iPad Touch that has layers of interactivity. The series was produced in conjunction with Toronto's XMG Studios.
The "appisodes" use transmedia storytelling which uses another form of interactive media on top of the existing form of media, known as video content in this particular example, to create an interactive experience. Further, when tweens aren’t watching the appisodes, they can play with built-in activities in a virtual “music studio," and custom-create unique content by manipulating it.
The cool blend of appisodes and activities sells for $4.99 in the App store. But Shaftesbury’s Jennings did say they are having trouble making money in the digital space.
The project is getting by with government funding… for now. However, the production cost of ten appisodes was equal to the production cost of two broadcast TV episodes.
One of the things that worries Jennings about new media is that if most mobile users are downloading everything on their devices for free, they will continue to want to get everything for free instead of paying for anything. That’s not to mention that Canadians also love to pirate shows off the Internet for free, as one commenter to the panel mentioned during the question period.
And it’s not easy to get advertising revenue in mobile as there continues to be a massive disconnect between Canadian content and advertising dollar spend as marketers likely have a lack of understanding or fear trying the unchartered waters of mobile advertising as it continues to experience triple-digit growth in the United States.
While the panel did say that Canadians would pay for convenience, Bob Egan of Mobiquity, a company that creates innovative and engaging enterprise-class mobile solutions that drive business value, says that the biggest disconnect is rather transactional: some Canadians still don’t trust giving their secure payment information through a mobile device or PayPal, for example. He believes there needs to be an increasing number of ways for Canadians to pay for things. Different people feel comfortable using different transactional methods.
Shaftesbury’s Jennings added that in the future we should expect to see more brands as content creators such as Smirnoff. They created a Black Entertainment Television series called “Master of the Mix."
Further, brands as content creators was debated at SXSW 2012 in Austin, Texas earlier this year as brands are now spending on average 25% of their budget on content creation.