The latest argument for cord cutting: Cat videos
Study: A quarter of people are watching less TV in favor of short-form videos
September 29, 2016
Last week, Hillary Clinton made a surprising appearance on “Between Two Ferns,” the satirical digital talk show hosted by Zach Galifianakis.
Plenty of candidates do the late-night and early-morning talk show rounds. But “Ferns” lasts just five minutes and is hosted on Millennial-focused comedy site FunnyOrDie.com, not exactly a site you associate with political discourse.
Nonetheless, the bit was a hit.
In 24 hours, the episode racked up more than 30 million views. To put that into context, the most-watched new series premiere on TV last week, “Bull,” drew 15.5 million viewers.
Welcome to the era of short-form video. From cat videos to cooking tutorials to comedy sketches like “Ferns,” this format has been around for years.
But while it used to be merely an occasional distraction, it’s increasingly becoming a destination unto itself.
In fact, there’s growing evidence short-form could drive the next round of cord cutting, or giving up pay TV subscriptions.
A new study from Horowitz Research looks at short-form video habits. Not only did 76 percent of internet users 18 and over report watching this type of video weekly, but 23 percent said they watch this genre instead of watching television.
Twenty-eight percent said they watch short-form video at the same time as watching TV.
This type of video is also referred to as snackable content, because it’s short and can be consumed quickly. It can be watched anywhere at any time, since most people have smartphones capable of streaming video.
“Today’s proliferation of screens, streaming, and social media enable viewers to watch television and video at more times than ever before in an expansive market,” notes Adriana Waterston, senior vice president of insights and strategy for Horowitz.
Short-form’s swift growth
Years ago, cat videos were just a way to kill time. They weren’t an entertainment draw in themselves.
But habits have shifted. Cord-cutting came into vogue with the rise of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, services that offer their own TV programming and also carry reruns from the networks.
People began swapping their cable subscriptions for much cheaper streaming video-on-demand accounts, and they saved money but still got to watch many of the same shows.
Short-form video is very different than SVOD. It has long been seen as inferior, because production values were lower. Anyone can post a video on YouTube, after all.
But the rise in digital video dollars has led to greater investment in short form. The quality has improved, and it’s hugely appealing, because the vast majority of short videos are free to watch, unlike SVOD content.
As “Ferns” shows, it’s possible to be a very short but very smart program. And the snackable length means people can skip around from subject to subject, as warrants our increasingly limited attention spans these days.
The most popular type of short video, Horowitz says, is music videos, followed by how-tos and movie trailers.
Coming in fourth? Animal videos.
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