World Television Day 2021 – How Social Media Habits are Changing TV

On 21st and 22nd November 1996, the United Nations held the first World Television Forum. Leading media figures met to discuss the growing significance of television in the rapidly changing world, and to consider how they might enhance their cooperation. 

UN leaders recognised that television could bring attention to conflicts, raise awareness of threats to peace and security, and sharpen focus on social and economic issues. Television was acknowledged as a major tool in informing, channelling, and affecting public opinion, with an undoubtable presence and influence on world politics.

Because of this event, the UN General Assembly decided to name the 21st November World Television Day, not to celebrate the object itself, but as a symbol for communication and globalisation in the contemporary world that it represents.

But is TV as relevant and influential in society today as it was back in 1996? 


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The role of TV is evolving

In 2021 the role of TV, and its impact and influence on our daily lives, is evolving faster than ever.  It’s not just that our viewing habits are shifting online, but that TV programs themselves are adapting to suit new social-focussed viewing habits.

Social media is a fundamentally different medium to television and encourages a different audience response. We may have previously been passive consumers of TV, but thanks to the internet and social media we are now active participants.  Not only are people watching videos on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook Watch, IGTV and so on, but they are also making it themselves.  

Social media is so heavily used, it's where we feel "at home", it's where young audiences in particular are experiencing TV and video first.  In fact, 50% of Gen Z now rank social media as the number one way they prefer to get news, with only 12% saying they get their daily dose of information about the world around them from network or cable TV. So, in response, more mainstream TV, whether broadcast, cable, and even incumbent streaming channels, must not only exist on social, but must also look and feel like social.  

Some great examples of this are the late and daily shows in the US - Saturday Night Live, Dr. Phil, Drew Barrymore, Kelly Clarkson, Late show and so on – these are all using video content, trending and viral video clips, as well as hard and soft news content to stay relevant and be ubiquitous.


UGV was born on social, it's the quickest and easiest way to look and feel like social for TV.

 A new era of television is emerging where literally anyone can produce and broadcast themselves to the world.

User-generated video (UGV) content is not necessarily a new phenomenon for TV, you only have to look back to shows like You’ve Been Framed to see its power as a ratings winner.  But UGV has evolved way beyond cute cats and people falling over.  Its aspirations are far larger, thanks to social media, and so too therefore is its impact on television.

There are now more than 6 billion smartphones subscriptions globally. These subscribers have access to highly advanced video technologies, and the social media platforms they are members of give them unfettered freedom to share their stories and connect to each other in exciting new ways.  User-generated video is staking its claim as ‘the greatest show on earth’.

People all over the world are out there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year capturing life as it happens, with all its colour and craziness, sights and sounds, triumphs, and tragedies.  It’s possible to find user-generated videos of just about anything and everything.  And that includes most of the stuff that TV shows are made of - animals and nature, sport, science, weather, crime, travel, news, and events, as well as real moments, real stories, and new perspectives.  

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Something new is happening in the world of storytelling, and TV must get onboard

But this ability to craft compelling narratives online and share them with followers and communities, isn’t just a social media fad.  The TV industry can be part of the revolution.  In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s vital to their future relevance that they get on board – because as mentioned earlier - unlike 1996 when World Television Day was launched, it is UGV rather than traditional big-budget production TV that is fundamentally changing the way we consume information and entertainment.

UGV provides TV producers with the ability to collect and share the vast quantity of content needed to make unique programmes that attract and retain audiences, whilst at the same time tapping into the growing desire to be entertained and inspired with authentic storytelling on the go.  


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User-generated video is one of the most unique opportunities for TV Producers in the next decade

The proliferation of UGV storytelling on social has created an opportunity that TV producers cannot miss.  

Take a leaf out of the IGTV, Facebook Watch and YouTube playbook.  They’ve started delving into the long-form video genre, delivering ratings-busting reality and factual entertainment shows alongside time-wasting clips, fails and funnies.  Or how about new streaming services such as Streamfire and Nebula, which are becoming the go-to destination for long form and even feature length shows, made by and starring creators.  

UGV offers a continuous supply of fresh content, new ideas and jaw-dropping entertainment, with the opportunity to get more of the shows audiences want to see into production quickly, and at a lower cost.  I promise it works…

A recent Comedy Central series made using Newsflare UGV almost exclusively, resulted in viewing figures 58% above the slot average and racked up the channel’s highest-rated daily viewing figure.  

Another production for MTV, made by licensing UGV from Newsflare, has remained popular for eight seasons (with more to come) because it delivers a wide variety of content including the uber-specific and unique footage audiences desire.  

Whilst others like People TV, the free streaming network from People and Entertainment Weekly, use a ton of UGV because its visually appealing, and attracts eyeballs to the channel.  Eyeballs they can then stream other full length shows to as well.


Celebrate World Television Day with Newsflare

Now is the time for producers to get prepared for a future of TV shaped by social.  So why not spend some time this World Television Day delving into the Newsflare UGV vault?  It’s alive with diverse, emotionally powerful content and fresh show ideas.  

You can search and license from 250,000 videos filmed by our diverse community.  We'll help you find the unique content your production needs or crowdsource content by putting our 45,000 creators to work on bespoke footage for your production.  

Take a look at our practical guide for producers looking to get started with UGV. Or get in touch with a member of our production team and we can help you get started.

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