This post originally appeared as an insight for Outsell’s customers. Republished with permission.

People born after the turn of the millenium aren’t more creative than previous generations, but they are more likely to be creators. They’re building worlds in Minecraft, creating videos to share with their friends, and some are already assembling audiences of like-minded viewers.

Important details

At the recent Next TV Summit in San Francisco, most speakers acknowledged that young teens use video very differently from those of their older siblings.

  • They don’t remember a world without an iPad, iTunes, or YouTube.
  • They have the tools to make and edit their own videos.
  • They’ve discovered Vines.
  • They’re building worlds in Minecraft.
  • They recognize and follow YouTube performers and channels.
  • Many of them already have smartphones.

In three to five years, they’ll be turning 18.

In the last five years, older teens and young adults have shifted their online attention from the Web to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Their kid brothers and sisters have a greater destiny.

Young teens certainly still watch TV, and are influenced by it. But they’re coming at it differently from their older siblings. And in fifteen years, many will look back on Minecraft with more nostalgia than they will traditional television.

For them, online video isn’t simply viral. They share videos and links in person, rather than in social media, because many don’t yet have social media accounts.

Young teens have their own tablets and phones and computers that they use for watching video. Television is something they hold in their hands on on their laps. They’re growing up capable of navigating, finding their own paths, and taking the recommendations of trusted channels.

Existing online channels and multichannel networks (such as Maker Studios, Machinima, Alloy Entertainment) have strong audiences in this demographic. They’re able to exploit their strongest channels and biggest names to promote not only their advertisers, but their other, newer properties.

Video cameras are ubiquitous. Everyone has video editing tools. And this year, Vine redefined (or obviated) video editing.

YouTube has removed the barriers to entry for young producers and talent. Any user can create a YouTube channel that is a peer to their favorite YouTubers’ channels.

Implications:

For the television industry, this is literally a once-in-a-generation change. It represents an inflection point as surely as the shift from AM to FM, broadcast to cable, newspapers to websites, CDs to pure data, and Blackberries to iPhones.

This is not simply about technology. This is not the shift from analog to digital, VCRs to DVRs, 4:3 to 16:9, coax to Cat-5, CRTs to LCDs, or even MSOs to OTT. Because of the scale of the change, it’s going to take a decade — or possibly a generation — to be fully understood.

The good news is that because it’s a generational change and traditional television has so much momentum, many incumbents won’t have to change their habits any time soon.

The better news is that Generation Minecraft is going to create new opportunities. It’s going to

  • Give current producers new ways of reaching audiences.
  • Open new revenue opportunities for incumbent providers willing to experiment at the edges of their distribution models.
  • Harness the creativity of people who had previously only dreamed of making their own programs.
  • Remove barriers between creators and their audiences, and allow fans to become collaborators.
  • Enable new means of funding television.
  • Create entirely new genres of television.