Social media is shaping up to change the video viewing habits of many, with millennials already at the forefront of this switchover. User generated content and short form videos are proving to be incredibly popular by the mobile-driven masses, creating billions in views.
As a result, it comes as no surprise that content owners are taking full advantage of this addictive nature. NBC Universal is providing original short form content on Snapchat from The Voice and more recently it utilised its rights to the Rio 2016 Olympics, by offering exclusive content on the platform. Others, including Viacom, have been pushing snippets of shows from Comedy Central and MTV, using its stock of content, but this move by NBC will be the first for originally curated content.
Major networks have traditionally targeted their audience through broadcast channels, typically associated with large audiences and high production value. However, social media now offers potential by tapping into larger (and global) audiences, accompanied with lower production costs. Though, the question remains whether short form content compliments the traditional long form to promote it, or will it displace/overshadow it.
The growth of Snapchat
Snapchat is the fastest growing social media outlet to date, launched in September 2011, and has seen faster growth in its first five years than competitors Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. However, Snapchat isn’t the only one extending its video presence.
YouTube still reigns supreme as the go-to video service, but it’s well-known that Mark Zuckerberg is keen to take an ever bigger piece of video viewing hours, adding features such 360 video and more recently ‘Facebook Live’, which has shown a raft of content including UFC fights, the US presidential campaign and original content, such as news segments from ABC News. Instagram recently introduced ‘Stories’, which replicates a key Snapchat feature. Twitter has long been a key player in the sharing of video and commentary and recently added 360 video support. A culmination of all these initiatives is allowing video to be accessed easily on each platform, ready for the awaiting audiences seeking fresh content.
High production values
Social media has been progressively making the upgrade from user generated brand advocacy such as the highly successful Zoella, to a launch platform for new video content creators such as Vox, Vice and Mashable. Content publisher UniLad has seen tremendous growth from Facebook, YouTube and Instagram amassing 2.7 billion views for its videos in July 2016 alone, becoming the largest social video publisher to date.
Now, however, the platforms are making further progression to showcase high-production value dedicated content from the major networks. With social media garnering mass global audiences such as this, it is undoubtedly a natural step for content creators to showcase their creations quickly and effectively.
Social media and smartphones
Smartphones have opened up the gates to allow social media to flourish as a video content platform, as apparent in the chart above, as most social media is consumed through smartphones with some dedicated to this platform alone. There is the drawback however of video eating into mobile data allowances, but if anyone is like me, this is easily forgotten with videos automatically playing on Snapchat and Instagram.
Short form video
Short form video dominates in the world of social media with UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph citing ‘consumers having shorter attention spans than goldfish, thanks to smartphones’. Futuresource’s latest consumer research dedicated to kids media consumption habits highlights that in the US and UK, 76% of kids (ages 3-16) indicate free online videos they viewed were typically 15 mins or under.
Short form video is similar to the issues facing nutritionists, whereby peoples’ nonchalant snacking leads to them eating way more than they would in one main meal. There’s a high chance a similar feeding frenzy on video will work for media companies alike moving to short form. But will content owners similarly face the same issue in being exposed to too much snacking and not enough of the main meal?
Ultimately, this quick and frequent engagement is helping to reach larger audiences, gaining new advertising revenue streams and hopefully wetting the appetite for many of the large scale shows content owners rely on.
Amisha Chauhan is a research analyst at Futuresource Consulting.