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Business News/ Industry / Media/  Bite-sized content booms as viewers’ attention spans fall
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Bite-sized content booms as viewers’ attention spans fall

The genre has seen a compound annual growth rate of 150% and is estimated to have ended 2021 with 180-200 million subscribers, but the attention span of users has dropped by 25% to just eight seconds in the last few years, according to a recent BCG report

Access to high-speed internet has led to demand for fresh content anytime-anywhere, especially so, as the attention span has declined, said industry executives. (REUTERS)Premium
Access to high-speed internet has led to demand for fresh content anytime-anywhere, especially so, as the attention span has declined, said industry executives. (REUTERS)

NEW DELHI : Indian short form video services, as well as YouTube Shorts and Instagram reels have seen rapid growth in users, following the ban on China’s TikTok.

The genre has seen a compound annual growth rate of 150% and is estimated to have ended 2021 with 180-200 million subscribers, but the attention span of users has dropped by 25% to just eight seconds in the last few years, according to a recent BCG report.

Access to high-speed internet has led to demand for fresh content anytime-anywhere, especially so, as the attention span has declined, said industry executives. This trend has resulted in a huge demand for regional language content and an opportunity for the creator economy, non-urban consumers, and brands using cultural nuances to connect with their target audiences.

“With shrinking attention span, there is a constant desire for fresh, engaging content, and people are paying more attention to shorter content formats for bite-sized entertaining content that can be consumed anytime and anywhere. A majority of users do not want to spend time on deciding what content to consume for entertainment. For OTTs, on the other hand, we have observed a decision- fatigue setting in among consumers," Udit Sharma, chief revenue officer of ShareChat and Moj, said.

More and more Indian users from both urban and non-urban regions are engaging with snackable, yet relatable, content and the creator economy is also getting a boost with several sustainable monetisation opportunities, Sharma added.

Short-video apps are optimised for the scroll and there’s no space for decision fatigue, unlike TV channels or OTTs, said Shreya Agarwal, the head of Pocket Aces-owned channel for short videos FilterCopy.

Here, the content and platform come together to make it highly addictive, and prod the users to spend more time than they plan to, she added. “Gone are the days when content creation required heavy investment, fancy setups or expertise—all apps have in-built tools to make creation simple and have turned the audience into creators—and all one needs is an idea and a phone. Since the user is creating the content is authentic and resonates well, and cuts across segments of population, representing India’s population mix the best across digital platforms."

Agarwal said the platforms also invest in and experiment with features to make it easier.

For example, Instagram helps users edit the selection of videos and images to the beat of trending audios.

“Short videos are also more shareable on social media, as they take up less space in feeds and are more likely to be watched by friends and followers," said Ian Goh, chief executive officer, Tiki, a short creator platform. “Additionally, short videos can be highly engaging due to their ability to capture the viewer’s attention quickly and effectively. This can be particularly useful for advertisers or content creators looking to promote their products or messages."

Short video platforms are studying their consumers‘ behaviour and continuously innovating, agreed Samiksha Mehta, business development manager at influencer marketing firm Pollen. For example, Chingari rewards its creators and users with a native crypto token for in-app activities like uploading, watching, liking, commenting, and sharing videos.

Moj collaborated with actors Ananya Pandey and Vijay Deverakonda to create commercials in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam to boost affinity and drive relevance for the platform in the northern and southern belts of the country. Along with creation, short form platforms are slowly moving towards optimizing engagement and monetizing content as well, said Hitarth Dadia, chief marketing officer and partner at NoFiltr. Group, a Mumbai-based marketing agency. "More and more platforms, including Instagram and YouTube, are helping creators monetize their short format videos," Dadia said.

Demographic divide

Tier-two cities are driving usage of short form video apps, forming over 60% of the user base, according to the BCG report. 40% of the users are aged between 16-24 years. Indian short form platforms support more than 10 languages, helping brands reach unexplored language dominated markets.

Advertisers too benefit from high engagement and user stickiness, as CPM rates for short form video platforms are as low as $1 whereas it can go as high as $4 for Facebook’s news feed and stories, according to the BCG report.

“More and more brands are now pushing content which is “Reel-first", which is why vertical ad formats are becoming increasingly popular. Advertisers are also experimenting with new storytelling methods that work in this format, even harping on all the viral trends, in order to better connect to their audiences," said Jitendra Hirawat, director at digital agency SoCheers.

Short format video platforms are seeing the emergence of talent and content across a host of genres, said Niyati Merchant, co-founder and chief operating officer, Arré, a content company which specialises in audio, text as well as short- and long-form videos.

“While comedy, music, Bollywood, beauty and fashion and dance remain the mainstream entertainment genres popular on such apps, there is immense scope for the long tail in these categories whether its regional music and humour to bringing a whole new set of genres into the mainstream," Merchant said.

Beyond the metros, quick short videos provide for a better streaming experience than long format high bandwidth consuming premium content in cities and districts of India where Internet bandwidths are lesser. “OTT platforms that are primarily advertising driven see merit in venturing into shorter format content attuned to daily consumption habits. Moreover, for OTT platforms, short format is a good way to experiment with untested genres for audience response and engagement before investing into high production value originals for the premium offerings," Merchant added.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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Published: 04 Jan 2023, 11:32 PM IST
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