Sunday, July 12, 2009

Are Online Videos Getting Shorter or Longer?

While I realize that online video is still a nascent industry and that, as Yogi Berra said, it's difficult to make predictions, especially about the future, two sources last week seemed to point in exactly opposite directions, much like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.

The New York Times, on Sunday, July 5, claims that videos on the web are getting longer, lasting beyond the 2-3 minute limitations that producers thought were imposed by the outer reaches of their audience's attention spans: "TV networks get much of the credit for the longer-length viewing behavior ... making users accustomed to watching TV online for 20-plus minutes at a time."

By contrast, a recent survey by Frank N. Magid Associates indicates that viewers are moving away from TV broadcasts that are shown online, and that, in the words of MediaPost, "shorter online video -- done professionally -- has been found to be more entertaining than full-length TV shows on traditional TV sets among 37% of consumers."

To try to reconcile these two viewpoints, it would seem that TV viewing online is conditioning users to longer-form programming than previously, and that online video producers are taking advantage of this trend by lengthening their narratives as they increasing compete with TV programming for eyeballs. Thoughts?