Short Form video: a future but not the future of television
Television has taken a back seat over the years. This could be blamed on limited time individuals have today which is why short video content is becoming common by day. In 2015, video online will represent under three percent of all video watched on all screens and short form revenues will be about $5 billion: by comparison, long form TV content will generate over $400 billion from advertising and subscription revenues alone.
The revenue gap may appear wide given that short-form video has been looked at as the future of television and is already dominating over traditional TV. For example in this scenario, One of the most successful TV shows in the US at present, Big Bang theory attracted an average audience of 17.5 million viewers in its most recent season, with each episode broadcast in a 30-minute slot in comparison, Korean star PSY holds the title for the most-watched video on Youtube, Gangnam Style which has amassed over two billion views since its release in 2012. PSY’S official channel has had almost four billion views.
Short form television is not just professional music videos but also home-made, low-budget clips which have also become popular in the media industry with billions of views. However, the numbers may seem huge but the percentage of all screen-based viewing time and an even smaller proportion of revenues. Well, how can the numbers be so big and at the same time so small?
The answer lies with metrics: the comparisons are based on similar-sounding but unequal metrics. Short-form is measured in views; long-form in viewers. Both short and long forms have subscribers but for the former the marginal cost is a click while for long-form it is a commitment of at least a month and sometimes several years.
Television viewing is typically qualified by viewers and online video by all-time views. There are fundamental differences between these two metrics, which are occasionally overlooked when comparing traditional TV with newer forms of video format.
In mature television markets, over $2 billion is spent globally measuring TV viewing among a representative sample of respondents every year. While harmonizing different metrics entirely straightforward, comparing on a like-for-like basis reveals a distinct consumption pattern.
The production values, monetization, genres, devices and consumption patterns for short-form are likely to differ markedly from long-form. Short form is mostly consumed on laptops, smartphones and tablets, and is often watched in short bursts, to fill gaps during the day, when waiting for a friend, or when distracted. On the other hand, long form is watched predominantly in the evening which is termed ‘appointment to view’ and is usually watched for several hours per session. The difference with the long-form viewers who still double up as short form, is that they are more tolerant of advertising breaks with multiple ads.
With this, we do not expect short form online content to usurp long form traditional television. It is a future but not the future of screen-based entertainment and it is unlikely ever to be the predominant