Viewing habits continuously change, and the disparity between generational cohorts is becoming increasingly stark. Deloitte recently reported that half of Gen Z and Millennials prefer user-generated video feeds to streaming video services. These feeds provide something that OTT services are not: limitless free and personalized short-form or snackable content that is easy to share and watch.
Mrugesh Desai is Vice President, North America at Accedo, leading the North American sales, solutions engineering, and marketing functions. He has 15+ years of experience in the media and technology sectors with a track record of building, scaling, and managing geographically distributed teams across several functions.
Millennials reportedly spend more per month on paid OTT services than any other generation, and at the same time, they also have the highest churn rate. As OTT video providers are responding to market pressures and media trends by launching AVOD services and ad-funded tiers, is there also a need to respond to the rising popularity of short-form content among OTT’s biggest spending (and biggest churning) cohort?
The rise of short-form video content
The way that people consume media has changed enormously over the last two decades. Consumers increasingly reach to digital media for entertainment, whether streaming video, user-generated content on platforms like TikTok and YouTube, social media platforms, video games, or listening to music.
Short-form content first became popular around 2013 with the release of Vine, a platform focusing on super short 6.5-second videos. TikTok followed a year later, at which point short-form content took off. All the leading social media platforms jumped on the bandwagon and launched some form of short-form content functionality over the following years.
So, what is the appeal of this bitesize content, and why has it become so popular?
It probably comes as no surprise that its growing popularity is closely intertwined with the rise of mobile devices and social media platforms. Content consumption is no longer confined to the big screen in the living room or even to the desktop computer or laptop.
With a smartphone, users access content on the move, anytime and anywhere. For this type of media consumption, users don’t want content. They have to commit time and concentration too. Bitesize content is perfect because it is convenient and accessible in a way that long-form content is not.
And, of course, short-form content goes hand in hand with mobile devices. Just as watching long-form content is a more enjoyable experience on a big screen, scrolling through bitesize content works better on a handheld device than on a big screen with a remote.
Many brands already successfully use snackable content as part of their strategies, as easy shareability makes it the perfect vehicle for delivering messages to a wide audience.
TikTok, for example, has around one billion monthly users, so it presents an immense opportunity for businesses to showcase products and improve visibility and engagement.
How can OTT providers leverage bite-sized content?
Short-form formats naturally work best for certain kinds of content. Viewers don’t want their favorite shows broken down into small chunks. They are looking for amusing and entertaining snippets they don’t have to invest as heavily in as full-length films or TV series.
Many OTT providers are already experimenting with short-form content.
Netflix launched its short-form video feature ‘Fast Laughs’ on the mobile version in 2021 and added it to the big screen version last year. Although the feature works differently on mobile devices compared to its big-screen functionality, the basic premise is the same. Users can view the shorts by delivering short, funny snippets from new shows, movies, and stand-up comedy specials, then save them to a watch list or stream directly. It’s a great way to introduce users to new content and entice them to watch more.
Similarly, Viacom18-owned OTT service Voot recognized that viewers don’t always want to engage in a full-length series, so it started showing short videos up to two minutes long to complement its content catalog. The service uses short-form video excerpts from their VOD programming to drive users to watch their longer content. Again, users can watch the full-length content directly from the bitesize video.
OTT providers are also using short-form content to help lengthen the lifespan of their catalog. By leveraging the likes of TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram Reels to share snippets from big shows, video providers can help keep their shows in the spotlight for as long as possible.
Some verticals lend themselves particularly well to bite-size content.
Sport is an excellent example where the average fan is hungry for much more than the main event aired to the masses. Short-form content effectively delivers additional commentary and analysis before and after the match or race, highlights and additional camera footage from the main fixture, insights into players, teams, and even supplementary footage from training sessions or the dressing room.
Presenting this kind of supplementary content in a snackable format can help increase engagement with sports fans, mainly Gen Z, who don’t engage with sports in the same way as older generations.
Bitesize content can also open new monetization routes for sports organizations and rights holders.
There is potential for snackable sports videos and shoppable content to form a perfect match. The latter has proved successful on social media platforms as an effective way to engage and quickly convert consumers. With the right tools, sports bodies can use short-form content to promote relevant products to consumers, keeping them engaged and enticing them to return for more.
Bringing long and short-form content together
Bite-sized content is already incredibly popular, attracting and engaging huge audiences. The challenge for video providers is adapting short-form content to make it work for OTT in a way that compliments the service, increases reach, and drives engagement. A successful video service continually experiments and adapts its offering to stay current and attractive, and there is every reason why short-form content should be part of this experimentation.
By incorporating short-form content into their offering, video providers can potentially engage with and appeal to viewers who don’t want the full, seated popcorn experience. It can also be used to connect viewers to new and relevant content. It is also important to note that different forms of media, from TV shows to music, gaming, and social media, are becoming ever more interconnected.
Incorporating bite-size content into the strategy should make it easier for OTT providers to traverse these different channels.
Mrugesh Desai joined Accedo in 2013 and is Vice President, North America, leading the North American sales, solutions engineering, and marketing functions. He was previously Head of Solutions Engineering, working with customers to understand their video experiences needs and help define ways to scale their brand and content to the fragmented OTT device market while still delivering best in class video experiences. He is most excited about some of the new advents in video experiences specifically in AR, VR and mixed reality and sees Accedo playing an important role in this arena.