1804: Video Content

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Video Content
"So, like, sexy news videos?" "No, people have tried that--it's still just video content. We need to actually inform people THROUGH making out. I would call it 'Mouth Content,' but I think that's already the title of a Neil Cicierega album."
Title text: "So, like, sexy news videos?" "No, people have tried that--it's still just video content. We need to actually inform people THROUGH making out. I would call it 'Mouth Content,' but I think that's already the title of a Neil Cicierega album."


This comic is a commentary on the growing media industry and their successful/unsuccessful attempts at regaining an audience.

In 2015, news media began an industry-wide transition away from text and towards video content, in what became known as the "pivot to video." News media has evolved dramatically as the world entered the information era. Newspapers, which were at one point the most widely distributed and consumed form of media, had rapidly been eclipsed by new technologies such as television, Internet, and streaming video, and subscriptions to paper-based media were drastically declining to the point where many publishers were on the verge of shutting down. Thus, many media sites started moving their content to video, as based on statistics that it was more popular, especially among younger consumers. However, the logic behind it was specious, as this comic shows. In 2016, it was revealed that the "pivot to video" was largely driven by inaccurate numbers touted by Facebook; while many sites continued trying to attract younger viewers with video content, the "pivot to video" became largely seen as a failed strategy.

The comic illustrates one such example with Cueball suggesting presenting news stories as videos rather than text. This is presented and received by Megan, Hairbun and Hairy as a clever new idea that would appeal to young people based on the fact that they like watching YouTube videos. However, apparently no one in the comic has realized that television news programs have been filling such a niche for decades and that young people are just as uninterested. In fact, online video based news is often considered annoying, especially if autoplaying or if there is no text based alternative. In reality, this idea is not at all original and likely to be doomed to fail from the start. As with many similar attempts, the new "ideas" that publishers are trying to adopt are merely cramming news content into things young people like, without really understanding why they like it and without considering whether news would be a good fit.

In the caption, Randall suggests it would be pointless to argue with newspaper publishers about their ideas. Presumably Randall believes publishers who fall for those ideas are already out of touch with the new generation, and would not be able to understand why those ideas lack merit. Instead, he suggests taking the trend to a ridiculous extreme, by telling publishers that young people like making out. Suppose publishers follow the same pattern and try to cram news into this as well, they would end up creating some form of news program centered around making out. The results may turn out completely laughable or highly entertaining. If the former, it could serve as a wake-up call to publishers that they need to reconsider their approach. If the latter, then it could actually become a trend and unexpectedly reinvigorate the industry.

In the title text it seems like the news agency actually consider this idea, or is at least confused enough to ask. Their interpretation of combining "making out" with news is to make it sexy, but the next speaker says that this has been tried before and doesn't work. This is likely a reference to Naked News (no link due to NSFW-ness), a news program that does that: it features attractive women delivering the news while simultaneously disrobing. This concept has not, for obvious reasons, gone mainstream.

According to the speaker, merely making the news sexy is not enough – the news content must be directly integrated into the making out; how this would be accomplished is as yet unclear.

The title text also dismisses the proposed name Mouth Content as possibly the title of a Neil Cicierega album, in reference to his recently-released Mouth Moods, as well as his prior albums Mouth Sounds and Mouth Silence.


[From left to right: Hairy, Cueball, Megan and Hairbun sit around a conference table.]
Cueball: Research shows young people like YouTube, so we should present news stories as videos instead of text!
Megan: Good idea!
Hairbun: They'll love that!
[Caption below the panel:]
Instead of arguing with newspapers about this, we should just tell them how much young people like making out and see what happens.

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This was my first time writing a transcript, so let me know if I did anything wrong. 16:52, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

Nice, but it's called a panel, not a frame. Jtvjan (talk) 17:04, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
sorry, my fault, I exchanged "comic" by "frame" instead of "panel" - solved :-) --LaVe (talk) 17:12, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
Well done ;) -- please have a look at my changes to the layout.--Dgbrt (talk) 17:57, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

Who is Neil Cicierega? 18:15, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

Lemon demon's real name Jtvjan (talk) 18:20, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

I understood this comic as being a parody on how news organizations decide their content and media regardless of how annoying it is to actually try to get all your news information out of videos (which I think annoys Randall) https://xkcd.com/1280/ 19:01, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

I've added information on a real example of "sexy news", and in the process extended our wikinfrastructure with Template:Hov (for hovertext) and Template:NSFW (for potentially NSFW links which belong on the wiki- like the link to Naked News's Wikipedia article). Hppavilion1 (talk) 00:23, 28 February 2017 (UTC)

I'd recommend adding a dotted bottom-border to Hov and changing the cursor it shows to "help". ~AgentMuffin
I considered the dotted bottom, but decided against it because I'd prefer to be able to not have that border when necessary, and to add a template derived from Hov that incorporates the bottom. Perhaps having a dotted underborder by default which can be disabled with an option would fill both needs? Hppavilion1 (talk) 16:28, 28 February 2017 (UTC)

Obviously the presenters need to be skilled in tactile signing (see Wikipedia's Deafblindness article). No problem there. 01:17, 28 February 2017 (UTC)

"This concept has not, for some reason, spread to the mainstream..." ...possibly because naked women are a fairly narrow and arbitrary definition of "sexy". -- 12:33, 28 February 2017 (UTC)

...possibly because women are a fairly narrow and arbitrary definition of "sexy". These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk)

Notice that a new what if? - Toaster vs. Freezer was released yesterday, the day after this comic was released. Less than three weeks between releases this time. Maybe Randall will begin to release more than one a month. It has been three this year since January 30th. (vs. only 5 other going back a year from today!) Cool :-) --Kynde (talk) 08:58, 1 March 2017 (UTC)

I couldn't find any "good idea" comics. Do you think we can just remove the tag? Waterhorse800 (talk) 15:16, 2 March 2017 (UTC)