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‘Digital natives should replace ‘Millennials’

The CEO of British factual prodco Barcroft Media has warned delegates here in Cannes focusing on the term ‘Millennial’ is “totally useless”, as the phrase is effectively a “panic button” with no unified meaning for producers.

Sam BarcroftSam Barcroft said on a panel session at MIPDoc yesterday producers and broadcasters were better off using the phrase ‘digital natives’ to describe the demographic, which fellow panelist Greg Diefenbach of factual SVOD platform XiveTV defined as a “massive” but disparate group of “anyone born after 2000”.

“The word ‘millennial’ means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, so it’s totally useless,” said Barcroft. “Millennial means something that happens once every thousand years, like Hereford winning the [European football tournament] Champions League. We should all reset the phase; it’s basically just used by people in ad departments. I’d much rather go after this group of people that are actually digital natives.”

His comments came during a session titled ‘Future of Factual: What Do Millennials Want?’ at the Martinez Hotel.

Barcroft’s YouTube channel, Barcroft TV, this week hit one million subscribers. The channel plays attention-grabbing short- and long-form human-interest stories produced to a professional standard.

Jeremy Lee, managing director of Red Arrow Entertainment-owned UK indie Nerd added there was a lot of “misconceptions” about the viewing habits of the demographic.

“They are interested in stories with strong narratives and long arcs and will go wherever to find that content,” he said. “They listen to [crime podcast] Serial, and [HBO doc series] The Jinx has been a big thing recently, but they also want shared viewing experiences. The Island is generating a lot of heat at the moment in the UK, as is The Great British Bake Off. It’s a very mixed picture.”

Diefenbach, who recently launched XiveTV, added there was appetite for traditional factual subject matter.

“They’re not completely divorced from the traditional subjects that we’ve been interested in the past,” he said. “The difference is they’re seeking an authenticity around the voice of the material that is unlike what we were used to in the past. Don’t like to be pitched to.”