3 creator economy trends to watch in 2023
The creator economy has come a long way in the past decade. We’ve all seen the mass fandom that comes up when MrBeast does anything, really. And now in 2023, it’s no secret that in the eyes of viewers, creators have become mainstream entertainment. Don’t take my word for it — watch creator and journalist Jon Youshaei explore this phenomenon on the streets of Los Angeles in his ‘Creators vs. Celebrities’ series.
I recently sat down with Jon at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting to lead a breakout session called “Why Creator-Driven Content is Winning the Streaming Wars.” We talked about some recent trends in how viewership is changing, where the creator economy is headed in the coming year and why creators have captured the hearts and minds of viewers.
Here’s what we uncovered.
1) Creator-driven content is taking over the TV screen
The latest Nielsen Gauge Report shows YouTube leading streaming watchtime on connected TVs, ahead of Netflix, Hulu and all other players. That means there are more Americans gathering around the living room TV to watch YouTube than any other platform.
Why? Put simply, people want choices and variety. YouTube has what viewers want: an always-on stream of innovative, diverse creator content in addition to traditional and studio-produced content. It’s a one stop shop for video viewing.
Think about something historically associated with linear TV: Sports. Now, with our NFL Sunday Ticket partnership, people can not only watch the games, but watch post-game highlights and commentary in one place. In 2023, we can expect to see even more crossover and conversations driven by creators and networks and studios.
2) Long-form and short-form creativity are more powerful together
To say creators have run with YouTube Shorts is an understatement. Last year, we reported that Shorts are being watched by 1.5 billion monthly logged-in users. We expect that number to grow even more — especially as we launch expanded eligibility for the YouTube Partner Program and Shorts ad revenue sharing.
YouTube has what viewers want: an always-on stream of innovative, diverse creator content in addition to traditional and studio-produced content. It’s a one stop shop for video viewing.
It’s been amazing to see creators innovate with Shorts, experimenting with editing, filters, popular audio samples, music and more. Since launching Shorts, channels uploading both Shorts and long-form are seeing better overall watch time and subscriber growth compared to those only uploading long-form.
We’re also seeing multi-format creators like Jon rewrite the rulebook for video creativity. In our discussion, he shared his latest obsession which he coined the “First Frame Rule.”
“I try to shoot and edit my content such that the first frame — literally the first thing viewers see — sets up as much tension in the story as possible,” he said. “For example, in that Creators vs. Celebrities video, there were many many failed attempts of that intro until I got to a successful ‘first frame’ that took off. Finally, I literally printed and held up a physical photo comparing them and asked the shortest question possible: ‘Who are these two people?’ Right then and there, in the first frame, the story was set up.”
3) For Gen Z, creators are the new content studios
Viewers of all ages, and particularly Gen Z, say they value story and relevance over everything. In fact, 65 percent of Gen Z (online 18-24 year olds) agree that content that’s personally relevant to them is more important than the content that lots of other people talk about.
It makes sense when you think about Gen Zs’ viewing habits. After all, this is the generation that watches far less cable and linear TV, and far more creator content compared to other generations, especially those who make both Shorts and long-form like comedian Andrew Schulz.
“More households are now growing up on YouTube as their main screen,” Jon said during our discussion. “So the household names of today are changing to the point where a lot of people don’t even know who some…traditional celebrities are.”
Creators are this generation’s directors, producers and talent all rolled into one and that’s why I believe they’re winning the streaming wars. I can’t wait to see what innovations they have in store for all of us in 2023 and beyond.