How NBCUniversal Plans To Develop Creators As Next-Gen TV Talent

Edition #40

In the latest chapter in the battle between Apple and Meta, Apple’s updated guidelines for the Apple Store demand that apps like Facebook and Instagram use its In-App Purchases tool for “boosted” social media posts. And, as a result, Apple will get a 30% cut of the revenue from this type of advertising.

Creators often will use “boost” tools to increase the reach of their content, especially for branded content. Meta's advertising business is already declining due to Apple's data privacy changes, so it won't be surprising if it decides to adjust boosting fees to pass along the additional costs to users.

Although this is probably a move against Meta, it illustrates the importance of companies considering how actions like these impact both the market and users, particularly the creator class that every company is striving to serve.

Today’s Edition:

  • NBCUniversal taps TikTok creators for its Creator Accelerator Program

  • YouTube rolls out a visual makeover

  • Shutterstock partners with OpenAI for AI-generated content

NBCUniversal Taps TikTok Creators For Its Creator Accelerator Program

The TikTok community is home to some of the most creative people on the planet. The video-first, audio-second format is particularly advantageous for visual storytelling and entertainment. Because of this, it is an ideal breeding ground for top talent and creativity.

NBCUniversal recently launched its Creator Accelerator Program. The 12-month program aims to develop the next generation of premium content creators for television and streaming.

How The Program Is Structured

For the inaugural program, it signed a diverse group of 11 TikTok creators with a total following of 10 million, including Katie Florence, Erika Priscilla, and Charlie Curtis-Beard.

Each creator will be assigned a development mentor to support the development of original scripted and unscripted series. They will also go through the greenlight process, including pitching to Peacock executives and business leaders. The creators whose pitches are greenlit will then produce their original content.

A New Pathway To Talent Development

Through NBCUniversal’s deals with notable creators in the short-form video landscape, it taps into next-generation talent that is pushing the boundaries of entertainment, media, and even culture.

The popularity of TikTok has significantly impacted people's viewing habits, especially younger generations. Traditional television and streaming have taken a backseat to TikTok. According to recent research by Omdia, TikTok is now the second most popular app in the U.S. among people under 35, surpassing Netflix. This comes two years after Netflix acknowledged TikTok as a major competitor along with traditional powerhouses like Disney, WarnerMedia, and NBCUniversal itself.

With creators and their TikTok content eating into television and streaming watch time, NBCUniversal is wise to build relationships and develop some of the individuals that are contributing to this shift. This is particularly important for legacy entities like NBCUniversal, who are trying to reach the elusive Gen Z.

The Opportunity For Creators

Participating creators will gain firsthand experience and knowledge of what it takes to make a show for television and streaming. Because of TikTok, these creators, especially those from marginalized groups, can bypass some of the gatekeeping that typically exists in the entertainment industry.

TikTok's enormous scale and ability to reach millions of people help level the playing field. Creators are less limited by whether they went to film school, who they may know, or traditional work experience. Instead of needing a script and an industry connection to get looks from a company like NBCUniversal, creators’ TikTok videos serve as their pilots, and their followers are their endorsements.

One thing that has yet to be revealed is whether creators will receive monetary compensation. This component is often how people decide whether something is a good opportunity for creators or not. Of course, as with other lines of work, creators should be compensated financially for their time and effort. However, some opportunities are more valuable than a paycheck, depending on the creators' specific situations.

Will It Be Successful?

Most wouldn't argue that there’s a big difference between making a great TikTok and a great television show. Even though creators have built audiences on TikTok in the millions, it doesn't necessarily mean their skills will transfer to television or their audiences will follow. It shouldn't be the end-all, be-all measurement of success for whether all creators get their shows greenlit or not.

Hopefully, future intellectual property (IP) emerges from the program for both parties, but more importantly, is how they work together. Is this another example of companies exploiting young talent for cheap, or does it result in more diverse voices in the room?

Just The Beginning

NBCUniversal isn’t the first to launch a Creator Accelerator Program, and it won’t be the last. These programs are becoming a popular way for companies to discover and develop talent with the potential of becoming part of their business in a form. The WWE, Hubspot, ESPN, Duracell, and others are just a few examples.

What if Bon Appetit launched one to turn food creators into its next writers or IKEA launched one to help DIY creators launch a furniture collection? We will see more of this in 2023 as more companies see creators as a must-need talent pool.

YouTube Rolls Out A Visual Makeover

A new look is coming to YouTube. The Google-owned video platform announced the roll-out of a visual makeover, emphasizing vibrant colors, a cleaner, more modern video player, and easier video navigation for viewers.

An Emphasis On Color

YouTube is introducing Ambient Mode, which uses dynamic color sampling to match the app's background color with the colors playing in a video. It’s also updating Dark Theme with a darker version so that colors are more vibrant.

With a big emphasis on color, YouTube creates a more immersive watching experience for viewers. Depending on the type of videos, creators may start to film and edit their videos in a way that allows them to take advantage of enhanced color.

A More Modern-Designed Video Player

The YouTube video player is getting modernized. Thumbnails and all buttons will have a rounded design. They will also have a unique background color and be placed closer to the channel name on desktop and higher up on mobile, respectively. Links in video descriptions will also be turned into buttons. The formatting for actions like Like, Share, and Download are being revamped to minimize distractions.

These changes not only result in a cleaner layout but also benefit creators by making it easier for their viewers to take action, such as subscribing to their channel or liking the videos through prominent and accessible buttons.

New Video Navigation Options

Pinch To Zoom and Precise Seeking, both of which were tested previously, are being rolled out.

With Pinch To Zoom, viewers can use two fingers to zoom in and out of a video when watching on an iOS or Android device. Viewers can use this to get a closer look at details in a video, which provides opportunities for creators to gamify their videos with “Easter eggs.”

Using Precise Seeking, viewers can click on the video progress bar and swipe through thumbnails to find a specific moment of a video, such as their favorite part of a video or a key step in educational and tutorial videos.

Its First Significant Design Change In A While

As YouTube celebrates its 17th birthday this year, it introduces its first significant design change in a while. Whenever there is change, there will always be pushback. Thankfully, YouTube’s design overhaul is good, especially considering the updates don’t impact any existing functionality. Creators will have to make some adjustments in the short term, but in the long run, these updates create a more immersive experience for viewers.

Shutterstock Partners With OpenAI For AI-Generated Content

Shutterstock is getting into the artificial intelligence (AI)-generated content world.

A Partnership & Integration With OpenAI

It announced a new partnership with OpenAI, the company behind the popular AI-content generator DALLE-2. As part of the partnership, OpenAI's image-generation capabilities will be integrated into Shutterstock's platform to allow worldwide users to generate images using text-based prompts.

Hope For An Ethical & Equitable AI Framework

Shutterstock is also launching a compensation fund for creators whose work contributes to the development of AI models. Creators will be paid out every six months, receiving revenue from training data and image royalties. To ensure proper tracking and payments, it will remove any AI-generated content that doesn’t come through OpenAI. It’s also sponsoring the World Ethical Data Foundation’s 2022 global conference, which focuses on inclusivity in technology. Combined, Shutterstock hopes to “establish an ethical and equitable AI framework.”

The Latest Major Company To Get Involved

Shutterstock is the latest major company to get involved with AI content generation, a space that is picking up a ton of traction. While rival stock platform Getty Images has banned AI-generated images on its platform due to copyright issues, Shutterstock is diving in.

With credit tracking and compensation built in for contributions, it tries to address some concerns people have with AI-generated content. Many of Shutterstock's creators have already voiced their opinions about the rates they are paid for the sale of images directly. Unfortunately, their contributions to AI-generated content will probably be less lucrative.

Shutterstock's first attempt won't be the solution needed to get masses aboard, but it's the beginning of what will be a lot of testing and learning.

The Opportunity For Social Media Platforms

As Meta and TikTok are already playing in the AI-content generator space, it's just a matter of time before social media platforms become more involved. At some point, we will see a platform launch an in-app paid feature for users to generate photos and videos they can share on their social media profiles. AI creations will be based on photos and videos from creators on the platform who opt-in for the use of their posts and receive a portion of the revenue made from the feature, whenever their content is used.

By making it easier for users to create and share content, increasing platform engagement, and helping creators monetize their work, a feature like this will benefit everyday users, the platform, and creators alike.

What’s Ahead

As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, AI-generated content will have a similar journey as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). It will be filled with concern and controversy but also opportunity and benefits. Creators, brands, and platforms that adapt will thrive, while others that don’t may miss out on valuable opportunities.

On The Blog

  • Instagram adds new features in Projects, Creator Portfolio, and Branded Content Ad Codes to its Creator Marketplace.

  • TikTok introduced new features for the TikTok Creator Marketplace that span across creator sourcing, campaign optimization, and campaign reporting.

  • LinkedIn starts to roll out new safety features to combat fraud and scams.

What I’m Reading

  • The 2022 Creator Compensation Report (Mavrck)

  • Inside Democrats’ elaborate attempt to woo TikTok influencers (The Washington Post)

  • YouTube mega-star MrBeast seeks 10-figure valuation (Axios)

  • Top 22 People in Affiliate Marketing that Represent Key 2022 Trends (MarTech Record)

  • BeReal is challenged to keep marketers’ attention without robust advertising offerings (Digiday)