image via NASA Instagram
What was once nerdy is now cool: young consumers love science. Now a new batch of science-focused shows is launching to take advantage of their appetite for the content.
Did you know Millennials love science? In fact, they f***ing love it. The Facebook page “I Fucking Love Science” currently has over 20 million likes. NASA boasts almost 3 million followers on Instagram, a platform dominated by teens and twentysomethings. National Geographic has earned almost 18 million followers on the platform, putting them into the same Instagram rankings as Beyoncé and Justin Bieber. YouTube series SciShow has over 2.5 million subscribers, and each episode is watched millions of times—and it’s just one of many wildly popular science-focused channels. For young consumers, science is cool, and a slew of new online series are being introduced to play off the trend and give them even more geek chic entertainment.
As we wrote in 2013, hints of Millennials’ fascination with space began a few years ago when galaxy prints started appearing on young tastemakers, and they haven’t gone away since. Amateur “astronauts” began to launch everything from iPhones to Legos into the stratosphere to record a moment in space. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos gained a major following on Netflix. But it’s not just space that’s fascinating Millennials, teens, and the next generation. This is the generation that grew up watching Bill Nye, and younger Millennials have grown up being encouraged to focus on STEM pursuits. What was once viewed as nerdy is now seen as cultural currency—thanks in part of social media. As The Atlantic noted,
“Science has become a universal language, a form of information that is available almost instantly and can be shared among people who have nothing else in common. The rise of social media has also blurred the line between high-brow and low-brow, professional pursuits and personal interests. When Millennials get excited about science, they post it on Facebook—and when they see a gorgeous photo of deep space on Twitter, it can open a new avenue of scientific exploration.”
Their appetite for science content has not gone unnoticed. Cosmos was rebooted in 2014 starring Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who has become a modern day science celebrity. Now Tyson is hosting Star Talk, a talk-show style series on National Geographic that blends pop-culture and with science content and is aimed at Millennial viewers. At last week’s NewFronts, the upcoming Snapchat Discover series that Fusion revealed included Science Fiction/Science Fact, a show that will reportedly look at the real innovations that have come out of science fiction movies. That’s just the tip of the science-tainment iceberg. Here are three online series from big brands that hope to draw in these young viewers:
PBS’S GROSS SCIENCE
Ever wonder if kangaroo farts could curb global warming? Or how different diseases can make humans smell? YouTube based network PBS Digital Studios is helping viewers uncover the mysteries behind mucus, bugs, funky odors, and things you didn’t even know existed in their new series appropriately titled Gross Things. Hosted by Anna Rothschild, the series stems from the success of their first video “The Tongue-Eating Parasite,” which gained 300,000 YouTube views within one week and now has over 635,000. The weekly and “highly watchable blend of weird and wondrous” series debuted in early April of this year and is set to release 40 episodes. The show’s short content caters to today’s A.D.D. viewers and is a fun mix of Rothschild expounding on the topic alongside cute, cutout visuals. She can clearly explain Greenhouse Gases within 20 seconds and knows to convey a message to kids and teens “it’s super important for them to find narratives and story in the topic.” The list of gross things in the science world seems to go on well past 40, and Rothschild hopes to continue the series in the future.
GE’S EMOJI SCIENCE
Millennials have never gotten over their love of Bill Nye the Science Guy, and their favorite lab-coat sporting host has now teamed up with GE to teach a whole new generation of young viewers about science—using the power of emoji. Nye stars in the new web series #EmojiScience, which teaches about holograms, energy, mind mapping and more as emoticons are used to animate the lessons. The series was born after GE and Nye’s Emoji Table of Experiments Snapchat project received a positive response last year. Nye’s 2014 Mashable video using emoji to explain evolution has also received over 1.5 million views. In August, five Emoji Science lessons will be available for parents and teachers to download, including activities based on emoji.
“So, hey, who’s not hip?” That’s the question president and CEO of the National Geographic Society asked after sharing that the publication falls into the same Instagram rankings as Beyoncé and Justin Bieber. Of their 17.8 million Instagram followers, 75% are Millennials, whose affinity for social and environmental good combined with majestic photography and intriguing subject matters has allowed National Geographic to thrive. To reach out further to their young fans, the brand recently launched on Snapchat Discovery, and unveiled an impressive lineup of digital series to premiere on YouTube for 2015-2016. The list of shows includes a range of adventurous edu-tainment like #InAWeekend, which follows a group of friends as they squeeze in an adventure into the weekend, and Long Short Stories, which delivers the backstory of a topic in less than a minute. Many of the series are intertwined with other platforms and social media campaigns, like World Explorer, which follows explorers in real-time through videos, maps, and social media. The series will be mobile friendly, prompt sharing, and engage viewers on social media.