Saturday, January 6, 2024

2 Billion Views and the Fastest Growing Content Genre in the World

Our nature and wildlife life social video brand, Roaring Earth, hit over two billion views on Facebook last year. Latest Sightings, our partner in South Africa, saw over 5 billion views across YouTube, TikTok and FB.  For both of us, it was significant year-over-year growth and is clearly part of a broader trend.

Wildlife and nature content is quickly becoming one of the most popular  programming genres in the world, thriving on every major media platform. The BBC, Netflix, Disney and other premium streamers now spend billions per year on blue chip nature TV series that often bring in some of their highest ratings.

Ad-supported nature channels in the FAST ecosystem now generate nearly 10% of all viewing and represent one of its fastest-growing categories, according to research from Amagi.  “Nature”, a legend of the genre, is entering its 43rd season at PBS and is more popular than ever.

It's the same story on social media. Many of YouTube, Meta and TikTok’s most viewed short-form videos are wildlife clips, with some of the biggest hits featuring the 94-year-old global media icon, David Attenborough. Last year, we had multiple videos deliver over 100 million views each for the first time. Over on Reddit, the cheeky nature brand "Nature is F-ing Lit" is among the platform's fastest-growing subreddit with 12 million subscribers. And while comment threads on social media are notoriously toxic, this content seems to bring out the best in folks with comments that are (mostly) informed, civilized and even inspiring.

Environmental concerns are one of the factors driving the boom. Many of the most charismatic animals featured in the content are endangered and in dire need of protection. Covid also played a role as people around the world flocked outdoors to state and national parks, leading to a deeper appreciation of nature and a desire to learn more.  When they got home, they not only watched more nature content, but downloaded apps like the Merlin Bird ID and All Trails, both now legitimate app store hits with tens of millions of downloads.

Another contributor: the legalization of marajuana.  Nature programming and weed are perfect companions according to various experts.  And we do know Snoop Dogg is a long time fan!

But the biggest factor is the inexhaustible supply of fresh and compelling content. Every day, hundreds of new wildlife encounters are captured by both professional production teams and camera-ready amateurs alike. And the footage they capture often comes made to order with riveting imagery, a powerful narrative arc and cast of characters that would make a Pixar screenwriter jealous. Novelist Ben Dolnick, in a delightful piece in the AWL a while back described how a 2-minute clip from the BBC's ground-breaking Planet Earth 2, “taught him more about storytelling than years of expensive education.”

Adding to the appeal for programmers is that nature content is family-friendly, evergreen and plays to an international audience. (Over 50% of our views came from outside the US)

New technology will only increase the flow of fresh daily content in 2024. More robust satellite internet connectivity is now enabling us to live stream from the most remote wildlife preserves with narrated game drives that will generate hundreds of new hours of both long and short-form content.

Latest Sightings is dedicating more and more resources to their surging wildlife app which enables users to share their sightings with the community and earn licensing revenue from their photo and video content. It's exciting to be part of a growing content genre that is entertaining, educational and inspiring, and most importantly, good for us and the planet. We'll be announcing new programming and distribution partnerships for our growing library of content shortly.