The Cord Effect: How Creator-Driven Content Can Save Legacy Media

Cord Jefferson’s recent Oscar acceptance speech sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry. His passionate plea for increased opportunities for new creators resonated deeply, particularly with the following lines:

“The next Martin Scorsese is out there, the next Greta – both Gretas. The next Christopher Nolan is out there, I promise you.  They just want a shot and we can give them one.”

But where are these aspiring storytellers honing their craft? The answer lies in the vibrant online landscape – YouTube, TikTok, Instagram – platforms teeming with talented creators who are already captivating audiences. Legacy media companies, grappling with declining viewership and unsustainable content models, would be wise to heed Jefferson’s message. Here’s why:

The Power of Lower-Budget, Creator-Driven Content

Cord Jefferson challenges the traditional “high-budget blockbuster” mentality. He proposes a shift towards a diversified content portfolio, advocating for:

  • More Content for Less: Instead of a single, expensive production, consider creating several high-quality, lower-budget projects. This approach spreads risk and increases the chances of discovering hidden gems.
  • Embracing Uncertainty: William Goldman’s famous adage, “nobody knows anything,” perfectly encapsulates the challenge of predicting audience preferences. A wider content portfolio ensures there are “hits” to offset the inevitable “misses.”

The Rise of Online Storytellers

Legacy media often overlooks the wealth of talent thriving online. These creators, with their dedicated followings and innovative storytelling styles, represent a goldmine of potential. Here’s what makes them valuable:

  • Authenticity and Audience Connection: Online creators build genuine relationships with their audiences. Their content resonates because it feels personal and relatable.
  • Proven Audience Engagement: These creators already possess a loyal fanbase eager to consume their work. Partnering with them allows legacy media to tap into an existing, engaged audience.
  • Cost-Effective Production: Creators often produce high-quality content on smaller budgets, utilizing readily available technology and lean production teams.

A Marriage of Scale and Innovation

Legacy media companies possess a distinct advantage – established distribution platforms with robust monetization models, from subscriptions to advertising. Partnering with creators offers a strategic opportunity:

  • Content Diversification: A wider variety of content, encompassing both established and creator-driven projects, caters to a broader range of audience preferences, leading to increased subscriptions and engagement.
  • Fresh Storytelling: Creators bring new perspectives and innovative formats to the table, rejuvenating content libraries and attracting new viewers.
  • Enhanced Brand Image: By fostering a reputation for nurturing new talent and embracing fresh storytelling, legacy media aligns itself with evolving audience expectations.

Beyond the Blockbuster Mentality

Legacy media might be hesitant to embrace change. The high-stakes, high-budget model has been the industry standard for decades. However, clinging to this approach might lead to stagnation and irrelevance. Here’s why a creator-centric approach makes sense:

  • Reduced Risk: Lower-budget productions mitigate financial risk, allowing for experimentation and exploration of diverse genres and formats.
  • Sustainable Growth: A wider content portfolio generates a more consistent revenue stream, reducing reliance on the success of any single project.
  • Future-Proofing the Industry: By nurturing rising creators, legacy media companies invest in the future of storytelling, ensuring a steady stream of fresh talent.

The Future of Entertainment: Collaboration is Key

Cord Jefferson’s plea is a call to action. Legacy media companies must embrace collaboration with online creators to thrive in the ever-evolving entertainment landscape. This partnership is not about replacing established talent or dismantling existing structures. It’s about leveraging the unique strengths of both entities to create a more vibrant and sustainable future for storytelling.

Josh Reader

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