If you’re over the age of 25, chances are you’ve never heard of a commentary channel. But for Gen Z, Commentary Channels are currently some of the biggest and most popular creators on social media.
For those of you who are scratching their heads right now, here’s a quick explanation. A Commentary Channel consists of a creator reporting on something they’ve seen in the news, in popular culture or on social media, and then providing their opinion on it. These videos tend to be very simple, often with screen-grabbed footage of the creator playing a game, drawing something, or speaking to camera, interspersed with screenshots/footage of the topic of the video. Typically posting on YouTube, these channels tend to post 10 to 15-minute-long videos several times a week.
Commentary Channels are often criticised however, for using clickbait to generate quick views, and for encouraging cancel culture through their provocative content. If these channels are so controversial, why do viewers flock to them? Eye-catching thumbnails and clickbait titles are typically used to draw viewers in. Commentary Channels are also easy viewing – their format is often nothing more than the creator speaking to camera, the visual isn’t always needed to understand what’s going on and you can do something else while you “watch”. Commentary Channels are often echo chambers. Whilst traditional forms of media tend to showcase both points of view on a certain issue, Commentary Channels focus on one; a more comfortable and digestible experience for the consumer.
How has this changed the media landscape? For a start, Commentary Channels turned social platforms like YouTube and Facebook into places for consuming news, which have led to more established outlets getting in on the action. Despite Commentary Channels attracting millions of views, they tend to earn revenue through YouTube ads as opposed to brand partnerships.
There’s an opportunity here for brands to capitalise on this trend. A food and gaming commentary channel could partner with Red Bull and react to their latest stunts. TV networks could regain a foothold with Gen Z by running their own commentary channels discussing the latest goings on in their programming. Any consumer brand looking to use social media to engage with Gen Z should take advantage of this opportunity, as this is a territory that no brand has tapped into yet and is ripe for the taking.