What works? Who’s watching? When you get right down to it, those are two of the easiest to ask and hardest to answer questions about streaming video, or video in general.
Maybe asking, “Who loses?” is easier. In a Bloomberg TV interview recently, that was the question posed to John Battelle, co-founder of Wired magazine and founder and CEO of Newco, who answered, pretty quickly, “I think who loses is probably long-form. Attention is finite. And if you get a generation that gets used to taking their entertainment in one-,two-, five- minute sips, it has to come from somewhere.”
That “somewhere,” he’s saying, are the half-hour and one hour TV programs, or even longer movies. They’re entertainment forms threatened by all the trends we now live by.
Almost by unanimous vote, we all suffer from attention deficit problems. Too much going in, and not enough sticking. We keep feeding the beast. According to a study by Deloitte, average Americans checked their phone 46 times a day in 2015, up from 33 just the year before. For younger users, that figure last year was 74. Assuming that many/most of those phone checks involve video, that’s a mountain of tiny messages, or pieces of entertainment, all day, every day.
The typical new mode, Battelle summarizes, as a “sub-90 second video, on Facebook, with captions.” Which is far away from even an MTV video, back in the days when those short forms were a new thing. Of course, it’s a world away from the length of almost anything on TV, or Netflix for that matter.
At the same time Facebook videos are proliferating, Bloomberg notes that Facebook users are becoming less likely to update their own status. Facebook says it might be “context collapse”: As we add more friends, this theory goes, we might not to want to tell everybody everything. So, increasingly, we’re sharing on more intimate messaging services.
That’s kind, though. It might be that we’re as sick of reading about every moment in a person’s life as we are adding our own. And the addition of advertising brings to the top of consciousness that these interesting-but-irrelevant pieces of chit chat are now out there in the wider marketplace. The context has changed.
Facebook personal posts--rather than posts of news articles and the like--have declined 21% in the last year, Bloomberg says. That has led them to encourage users to go live, with on-the-spot updates about their lives. Don't think about it. Just keep ‘em short.