Cynopsis Presents: Homecoming Contest Winners Announced
College Students Weigh In On TV Today
Cynopsis asked college students to answer questions touching on issues of interest to the rapidly evolving media industry, as audiences increasingly turn to streaming, and away from traditional advertising.

The answers we received to the questions, Do you think sharing OTT subscription passwords is cheating?, and How can TV advertising be improved?, were smart, insightful – and food for thought. Below are the winning entries, followed by selected comments from our winning runners-up. Winners receive $250, and recognition at our Best of the Best awards event in NYC on February 6th 2020.

Do you think sharing OTT subscription passwords is cheating? (tie)
Brittney Loper, Syracuse University
As a young college student pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, I find myself in quite the dilemma. On the one hand, my broke college student self tells me I should just use my sister’s Hulu account to watch The Handmaid’s Tale. On the other hand, I would like my future self to be profitable in her career and with the prominence of streaming, this is likely to be one of the industry’s biggest revenue streams (pun intended). So I am forced to ask myself, is sharing passwords cheating the very system I want to work in?
In simpler times, such as 2013, I remember swapping movies and TV shows on DVD with my family and friends. I’d lend my cousin season one of How I Met Your Mother and in return he would let me watch his copy of Pirates of the Caribbean. I may have stopped him from buying the first season of HIMYM, but I also introduced him to the show, which did eventually lead to him purchasing a ducky tie. True story. Anyways, the point is the choice to share my DVD was far less of a moral conundrum than sharing a password is.
But it shouldn’t be.
The truth is sharing passwords is really just the modern equivalent of sharing DVDs. It was never frowned upon to share DVDs because it was logical; if you wanted to show someone your favorite movie or TV show you would let them borrow your DVD. So why is it “cheating” to share your password? Are we really supposed to buy every single OTT streaming service when the reason we invested in them and cut the cord was to save money? No, but this doesn’t mean it’s completely acceptable to freeload off someone else’s subscriptions either.
Ultimately, what helps me sleep at night is knowing that while I’m watching The Handmaid’s Tale with my sister’s Hulu subscription, she is watching Kidding with my Showtime subscription. You see, the key is swapping rather than just sharing. This mutually beneficial relationship allows us to utilize the system without cheating it.

How can TV advertising be improved?
Adam Bakst, University of South Florida
Often, those just getting involved in advertising classes are told to pay attention to age demographics. As if scripted, students learn that 18-24-year-olds want a specific kind of flashy, fun advertising, and 45-54-year-old viewers need a completely different, more sophisticated presentation.
This is absurd.
Most people want the same things from any given product, regardless of age.  Take for instance, fast food. Now, a person 45-54 will want a few things from a cheeseburger: they want to get it fast, for cheap and they want it to taste good. Now, this is the same kinds of things a 18-24-year-old consumer would want…or a 65+ person would want, or 25-34… or really anyone, at any age.
So why then does the advertising for each age group need to vary so vastly?
When a restaurant promotes their food to a more ‘mature’ audience it is about how great their product is. It is a different feel- it is almost exclusive to the product’s purpose itself. So, when fast food commercials try to appeal to Millennials or Gen X, Y and Z-ers with Ronald McDonald dabbing or the Wendy’s girl making “funny” memes about their fries — it is not clever, it does not get their point across and it is embarrassing.
What do young adults hate more than anything? Being talked down to and made to feel dumb. When companies appeal to current fads and try so hard to be relatable, it is rude.  Advertising can improve by treating young adults as adults, a simple concept that would connect companies to their customers.

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Our runners-up, quoted below, will receive a $25 Starbucks gift card for sharing submissions that were thoughtful, and thought-provoking.
“The notion that only a specific group of people — those with the resources and the privilege to afford OTT subscriptions — should be allowed to access said content goes against the whole reason for this art form existing in the first place.”
-Neeti Joshi, New York University
“In my generation, sharing something such as television passcodes shows the value of trust and community. So why take that away?”
-Kennedy Hardemion, San Francisco State University
“Next time I log into my friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s HBO account, I will take a long look in the mirror and wonder if this is worth being labeled a cheater. Odds are I will be okay with this new label, as I am dying to see Watchman…”
-Sarah Lovejoy, Colgate ’19
“If the sale of a single subscription that will be used by, say, three people results in a sale, then that’s a better business model than somehow managing to enforce one-account-one-person and potentially alienating far more paying individuals who would have otherwise signed up for an account they intend to share.”
-Charles Christiansen, Iowa State
“If you want to improve television advertising, show us ourselves again – the almost broke, the biracial, the non-binary, and the imperfectly beautiful people we so often are.”
-Kristen Day, Purdue University
“There’s validity in the annoyance that acomes with someone requesting access to your OTT service account (free of charge) when you’re single-handedly coughing up the money to cover those monthly fees. It’s a similar feeling to when you’ve pulled an all-nighter trying to finish an assignment and your friend (who was fast asleep by 9pm sharp) asks if they can copy your work.”
-Alexis Stackhouse, Syracuse University
“Paid product placement, in the form of investment dollars, should become more elegantly and intelligently woven throughout all types of content. Streaming content, specifically, is ripe for this type of collaboration.”
-Pietro David D’Allessio, Full Sail University
“Despite me being lucky enough to have my sister’s Netflix account (thanks sis)…if me having someone’s Netflix account means I might end up losing shows and movies that I enjoy very much then yeah…consumers are losing.”
-Alexander Sanchez, Penn State
“While there will continue to be password sharing and cheating, perhaps some of the newer members of the streaming squad will consider offering extended ‘family’ or ‘friends plans’ in which several people can pool their money in order to receive sign-ins, but reducing the cost overall.”
-Jakob Eiseman, LaSalle University

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