Films, series, and social media content on global platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, and YouTube are now a major part of children and adolescents’ media consumption. This change from domestic to global platforms severely challenges the way domestic players think about young audiences.
A recently published anthology entitled Audiovisual Content for Children and Adolescents in Scandinavia: Production, Distribution, and Reception in a Multiplatform Era offers new knowledge on how Scandinavian media distributors, producers, and creatives, as well as their young audiences, act in the face of this new reality.
“The anthology demonstrates that while domestic providers of audiovisual screen content for children and youth are under enormous pressure from global platforms, the Scandinavian public legacy media are very much taking up the challenge and the competition – and are certainly not going down without a fight”, says Pia Majbritt Jensen, one of the editors of the book.
“The book contains a lot of examples of vibrant and innovative Scandinavian content and industry professionals and providers, who are on a clear mission to make fantastic, relevant, engaging, and authentic content that resonates with precisely Scandinavian children and youth and that offers their audiences a worthwhile alternative to the global providers”, Jensen continues.
The role of legacy media in jeopardy
Understanding the media habits of children and youth is important, as they constitute the future audience. Their current habits and the struggle domestic media have in reaching them may be the media habits and struggles of everybody in the near future, the book suggests.
“If legacy media don’t find a way to crack the code with the younger generations, these media risk becoming obsolete – or for only the few highly educated members of society – in the future. This in turn may jeopardise the role that these media currently play in the public debate and as a space for national dialogue – and hence ultimately the wider democratic conversations we have at least historically had via the legacy media in Scandinavia”, Jensen says.
Public service meets YouTube
The contributions of the book explore various aspects of reaching young audiences through providing content that they can identify with, and how commissioning editors and content creators seek to recognise what this content is. Among various digital strategies that are highlighted to reach young audiences, one of the chapters in the book looks specifically at the ways public service media work to stay relevant for the future generation in the multiplatform era by using social media.
“While many studies address the troublesome aspects of expanding to third-party platforms, this study looks at the strategic benefits of serving youth on YouTube. Those include reaching a target group that is otherwise hard to reach and attracting new content creators. For public service media, both are of pivotal importance”, says Vilde Schanke Sundet, author of the chapter “Public service youth content on social media platforms: Reaching youth through YouTube”.
The study gives meaningful insight into producers’ self-perceptions when creating YouTube content within a public service context. It takes a nuanced look at the pros and cons and highlights the tensions that production workers operating across legacy media and social media may experience.
The book is part of the research project “Reaching Young Audiences – Serial fiction and cross-media storyworlds for children and young audiences”, funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark (2019–2024).
Editors: Pia Majbritt Jensen, Eva Novrup Redvall, & Christa Lykke Christensen.
Mia Jonsson Lindell