TikTok as Gen Z’s Search Engine, the Rise of Recommended Media, and Amazon Drafts Dude Perfect for Thursday Night Football

August 12, 2022 by  wearerockwater

What We’re Reading

3 articles + RockWater analysis to make you a better investor and operator.


For Gen Z, TikTok is More Than Entertainment. It’s a Search Engine.
Mashable, 7.31.2022

The RockWater Take by Chris Erwin

Gen Z’s search behavior is different than that of Millennials. They want bite-sized “vibe checks” w/ no fluff.

As in, no extended personal stories of chefs before a blog-based food recipe.

And short videos of restaurant views, ambiance, and food in under 10 seconds.

I feel that.

Historically, my lifestyle search + purchase flows consisted of…

🥘 Yelp + Eater for restaurants, reservations via OpenTable or Resy.

👩‍🍳 Google search for recipes, then saved in my Paprika 3 app.

✈️ Tripadvisor for travel, then booked via Expedia Group (RIP Hipmunk).

🛒 Wirecutter for tech + gear, or just go direct to my fave brands like Burton Snowboards or Patagonia

But after playing around with the TikTok search and Collections folders this AM, and finding some rad San Diego restaurants with ocean views in less than 30 sec of searching, I’m sold on this new search flow.

Excited to put this to use for my upcoming 2 week southeast US road trip at the end of August 😉 “Things to do in Asheville / Charleston”, here I come TikTok.

Which also makes me excited for new purchase and commerce flows TikTok will experiment with…table reservations, flight bookings, food ingredient delivery, and more!

…also has implications for the new recommendation algos being put in place by FB / IG, but that’s a separate post 😉



Amazon Plans Alternative Telecast of TNF With ‘Dude Perfect’
Front Office Sports, 8.1.2022

The RockWater Take by Alex Zirin

As alternative telecasts have permeated NFL broadcasts over the last few seasons (ESPN’s Monday Night Football Manningcast, ViacomCBS’ NFL on Nickelodeon broadcast, etc.), Amazon has taken a firm step into the creator economy with their latest edition, TNF with Dude Perfect.

Dude Perfect, known for their viral sports-themed YouTube channel, will host alternate broadcasts for a still-to-be announced amount of Thursday Night Football games this season.

Interestingly, this is not Dude Perfect’s first foray into professional sports promotion. This spring, the team produced a controversial video at Augusta National’s Amen Corner for the 2022 Masters Tournament with the goal of engaging a new group of fans.

Regardless of how ‘sacred’ a sporting venue or event is deemed by its most faithful, the reach of successful creators, coupled with engagement metrics that mainstay sports could only dream of, presents an opportunity to attract younger fans that can’t be ignored.

By coupling their $1B investment in Thursday Night Football rights with the ethos of portfolio-co Twitch, Amazon is betting that Dude Perfect will unlock a new tranche of fans that were previously uninterested in NFL broadcasts. For those more interested in traditional football coverage, Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit will still narrate the main broadcast.

However, fans of Dude Perfect will have the opportunity to watch some of the world’s most popular creators doing what they do best, “mastering the impossible”. The simulcast will feature their usual fanfare, performing dunks, stunts, and tricks from their HQ in Texas.

Amazon wants to create an “opportunity for families to watch together”, but I’m not sure that’s what this activation will accomplish. As sports media broadcasters look to engage new fanbases, a segmented approach which addresses each audience group on an individual basis does more to divide an audience than it does to unify them. I’m certain that more total fans will tune into Amazon’s various broadcasts than they would have otherwise, but I’m bearish on the fact that they’ll watch together. More likely, each fan will simply tune into the broadcast tailored for their fandom, and ignore the rest.



The End of Social Media and the Rise of Recommendation Media
Every, 7.30.2022

The RockWater Take by Mike Booth:

Recommendation media is overtaking social media. The Winners: platforms & micro creators. The Losers: mega creators.

Social media (Instagram, Snap, et al) rely on social graphs to distribute content, whereas recommendation media (TikTok and YouTube) rely on interest graphs to feed an all-knowing algorithm which then distributes content.

In social media, building followership creates exponential growth, because each new follower acts as a distribution node to audiences that a creator’s content previously wasn’t reaching.

At maturity this dynamic creates a small group of mega winners who effectively capture a platform’s programming power.

Once that programming power is captured, it is tremendously difficult for micro creators to scale their reach.

Conversely, in recommendation media followers are much less valuable to scale a creator’s content distribution.

Recommendation media algorithms are constantly optimizing to farm the most engaging content, meaning every view is a battle between creators for quality.

This levels the distribution playing field between mega and micro creators.

It also gives programming power back to platforms (after it was taken by mega creators in social media).

When platforms control the algorithm, they control content virality.

I like Michael Mignano’s quote here:

“In recommendation media, it’s ultimately up to the platform to decide what type of content gets recommended, not the social graph of the person producing the content. In contrast to social media, recommendation media is not a competition based on popularity; instead, it is a competition based on the absolute best content. Through this lens, it’s no wonder why Kylie Jenner opposes this change; her more than 360 million followers are simply worth less in a version of media dominated by algorithms and not followers.”

Some things it makes me think about:

  • How will this change affect influencer marketing? More campaigns done at the platform level for sponsored trends VS product placement on a mega creator posts?
  • How will platforms exert their newfound programming power long term? They could start building their own in-house content that super serves their algorithm. Think Netflix originals, but for TikTok.



If these insights are relevant to projects you are thinking through, ping us here. We’re always excited to riff through ideas!

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