In case you missed it last Friday, the internet was briefly freaking out about a Buzzfeed video showing two guys putting rubber bands around a watermelon until the thing finally exploded. It’s sixth-grade science project kind of thing, or the kind of activity your dad convinces you to do in the backyard when your mom is gone for the weekend. But this seemingly ridiculous video, which used Facebook Live to broadcast, made news largely because it drew over 800,000 viewers at its peak.
The combination of Facebook Live, which has been in the news lately because the company is making a big deal about it, including paying media companies to use it to try and get traction, along with that fairly large number caused it to become a significant story. Many outlets pointed out that the viewership was bigger than a number of critically-acclaimed cable shows. That, the thinking goes, points to how stupid live video is going to be the future of TV, or at least the future of online video programming. That argument is, though, wrong and meant simply to create a stir in media circles.
It’s like comparing the number of people who eat an orange to those who have adopted vegan diets: The scale is totally different. That was one video that was around a single (ridiculous, but entertaining) event. TV shows – or whatever we want to call their equivalent on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu – require much more commitment. The calculus is different when determining what to watch and when. If Buzzfeed’s exploding watermelon video were a story that was going stretched out and told over 13 weeks for four seasons…then we can talk.
Until then this isn’t the future of TV. It’s an evolution in how people consume short-form video and what they may or may not choose to watch. But that’s it.