3 Trends Shaping the Context for Short-Form Videos

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Online video has come of age, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t experiencing some growing pains in the process that are keeping the market a work in progress. As the short-form video comes of age, several trends are emerging to keep things interesting, with “short” becoming longer, the lines blurring between video consumers and producers, and quality becoming an important differentiator.

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Worldwide consumption of video overall jumped 34 percent in 2017 from year-earlier levels, according to a Limelight Networks consumer survey. And that’s not changing anytime soon. Cisco projects that a million minutes of video content will cross global IP networks every second by 2021, accounting for 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic.

It’s a dynamic environment that’s only becoming more so, as G Scott Paterson observes. G Scott Paterson is one of the leaders at The QYOU, a leading curator of “best of the web” video for multi-screen distribution. What’s driving videos pervasiveness, he adds, is its ability to cut through the digital clutter as a human and authentic channel.

Three of the emerging trends shaping ideas, the context for short-form include:

  1. Stretching the form out. After the shuttering last year of some of the most highly touted short-form streaming services like Seeso, Fullscreen and Watchable, pundits pointed to a severely deflated bubble for short-form video, a 360 reversal from the hype that has long-characterized the market.

But the reality is that “short” is being redefined. And its definition was a moving target, to begin with – anything less than 10 minutes, by some lights, but less than five for sports video and Millennial tastes. Last year the form started getting longer: Facebook’s average videos in 2017 averaged just under 4 minutes, compared to 55 seconds in 2015. This year, there’s more experimentation with 10 to 15-minute videos: Netflix is planning 15-minute comedy specials, and Hulu is looking at an “emerging content lane where…short-form might get people to interface with our platform for reasons other than to watch an entire season of television.”

  1. Blurring the lines. Innovations in technology (that also can be accessed without breaking the bank) are making it a lot easier to be both a consumer and a producer of content. Consider Apple’s IOS 11, which has made it an easy matter to capture video without using a third-party app. David Burrows of the M+M Agency told EContent magazine that “…this will add to the revolution of faster and cheaper video production, editing and repurposing.”
  2. Let’s talk quality. The pressure is on for improved quality, from every perspective. The big buyers of content, like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, are still veering toward content that’s more like premium TV than what you typically see on web video platforms. Observers also note that there’s so much quality content available through free Web channels that the subscription streamers should be sharpening their strategies.

But quality also refers to the user experience as they experience video rebuffering as they watch longer videos on mobile devices with wireless connections. It’s a critical delivery infrastructure issue, as 61 percent of the Limelight survey, respondents said they stop watching if a digital video rebuffers twice.

It’s a dynamic environment for video content, to be sure, one that is constantly reshaping as viewer preferences shift and technology improves the user experience. The ultimate goals, adds Paterson, are to target well with quality content in the interest of meaningful viewer engagement.