Short-Form Video Continues Long-Term Benefit

NEW YORK — Comcast Watchable VP of programming, Craig Parks, has never been particularly fond of the term short-form video — “short-form,” to him, implies “less than” — but words aside, the videos themselves are growing increasingly valuable. That was something everyone on Parks’ OTT panel could agree with last Wednesday (Oct. 18) at the Multichannel News/B&C NextTV Summit.

The fact that short-form video clips still drive viewership on OTT platforms was one consensus at the panel session entitled “The Transformation of Storytelling in the OTT/On-Demand Era.” And while there is no gauging how long an audience will pay attention to the videos, 15 minutes seems to be the limit. To Parks, it really depends on what you’re using the time for.

“If you’re cooking a pizza, it doesn’t need to be any longer than it is,” Parks said. “There is no magic number, no magic length.”

But he said that after producing 18 short-form series, he believes anything past 15 minutes might be pushing the envelope.

While short-form shows may get short shrift compared with traditional 30-minute and 60-minute series, panel members said the two can work together. At A+E Networks’ H2, senior vice president, head of programming Paul Cabana said the network is reviving the “Biography” channel brand, but only via one-to two-minute clips. At that length, he said, they can relaunch Biography on any of the programmer’s outlets.

Gunpowder and Sky founder and CEO Van Toffler, a veteran of linear TV (he spent more than a generation at Viacom), said short-form video can lead to longer-form projects, but that is a rarity. Short-form also has value in determining if a longer-form show will resonate with the audience.

Toffler said his company is currently shooting a seven-minute pilot for a proposed 30-minute show. Once that pilot is finished, Gunpowder and Sky can put it online to determine how a young audience will react to it.

“I love the idea of down and dirty, fast and cheap pilots you put up on your own sites and learn from your experiments,” Toffler said.