The new satirical show, “Cobell Energy,” directed by Adam McKay’s Yellow Dot Studios, is set to debut on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube this week. Unlike traditional shows found on streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Max, “Cobell Energy” will consist of short, weekly episodes that are just a few minutes long. Shot vertically, the series is designed for easy viewing on mobile devices, catering to the audience’s preference for consuming content on the go.
Ari Cagan, the director and writer of “Cobell Energy,” highlighted the show’s unique format, emphasizing that it lacks the standard beginning establishing shots commonly seen in TV shows. Instead, the series is crafted to engage viewers on social platforms by cutting through the noise with compelling scenes and dialogue. The goal is to immediately capture the audience’s attention in a landscape where content consumption is fleeting and disposable.
In discussing the show’s launch on TikTok and Instagram, Cagan acknowledged the challenges of standing out in a stream of content. He emphasized the importance of creating quality content that resonates with the audience and transcends the immediate, attention-grabbing tactics often employed on social media. “Cobell Energy” seeks to defy the convenience of disposable content by delivering engaging narratives that compel viewers to stay invested.
The move to showcase short-form content on social platforms is not a new endeavor for Hollywood. However, past attempts, such as Quibi, failed to gain traction despite the involvement of A-list actors. Nonetheless, the trend of repurposing TV shows and movies on TikTok has been steadily gaining popularity, with even older shows like “Call the Midwife,” “Chicago Med,” and “Sex and the City” finding new audiences on the platform.
Major studios, including Paramount Pictures, have embraced the trend by making their content available on TikTok. In a recent move, Paramount uploaded the entire 2004 hit film “Mean Girls” for a day, further showcasing the platform’s potential as a gateway to engage younger audiences.
However, a majority of the content sharing on TikTok is often unauthorized, with anonymous accounts uploading fragmented clips of shows and movies without permission. Despite the chaotic nature of some of these accounts, they have become a discovery tool for Gen Z viewers who are seeking out new forms of entertainment after shifting away from traditional cable subscriptions.
As of October 2022, TikTok has become the second most popular app among Americans under 35, surpassing streaming giants like Netflix and trailing only behind YouTube. Research and surveys have shown that younger audiences are increasingly consuming entertainment on their mobile devices, with a significant portion of their content coming from platforms like TikTok.
While the unauthorized sharing of copyrighted content on TikTok raises legal concerns, it has also contributed to the exposure of shows and movies that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. As more entertainment migrates to social media platforms, the industry is quickly adapting to cater to the evolving viewing habits of younger audiences.
Despite the challenges and legal issues surrounding the distribution of content on social media, the emergence of platforms like TikTok as a hub for entertainment consumption highlights the need for industry-wide strategies to engage with younger viewers in innovative ways. As “Cobell Energy” makes its debut on TikTok and other social platforms, it represents an important step in exploring new avenues for delivering compelling storytelling to the audiences of tomorrow.