Snapchat, Facebook Watch and Quibi are driving a boom in short-form content according to a report by Ampere Analysis. Already making up 9 per cent of all VoD series globally, 11 per cent of upcoming VoD commissions are short-form.
Initially driven by Comedy, upcoming short-form series are shifting towards factual content, with a focus on Reality, Entertainment and Documentary – this contrasts with long-form SVoD content, where most commissions are high-end, scripted titles. Although commissioning is currently led by the social media platforms, mainstream broadcasters are starting to board the bandwagon, with Channel 4 and BBC in the UK getting in on the act.
Facebook is the top global short-form streamer – for now
Facebook currently has the most short-form originals with a focus on News & Current Affairs, including daily broadcast news programme, Fox News Update. Short-form is popular in Asia, and Hong Kong’s Viu comes in second globally for the volume of short-form originals currently on their platform. Most are Reality or Entertainment. Netflix has opted for another approach, preferring scripted comedies such as cerebral palsy dramedy Special, sketch comedy series I Think You Should Leave, and coming of age comedy Bonding.
In terms of the number of short-form commissions, small and emerging SVoD and AVoD platforms perform well, with newcomer Quibi dominating the number of releases in 2020. Quibi and Snapchat make the top 10 streaming commissioners between August and September 2019, according to Ampere’s Commissioning tracker.
Smaller players can be significant in short-form, influenced by the lower production values for unscripted content. This leaves the door open for unlikely players – including Indian food delivery service Zomato. Its slate of originals includes cooking shows available exclusively from its app.
Focus on Asia
A high proportion of short-form video originates from Asia Pacific territories as a result of regional focus on hand-drawn and computer-animated Anime content. Almost one third (31 per cent) of all existing short-form originals come from South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong or China. It skews towards scripted material: 44 per cent of all short-form originals here are scripted, and 43 per cent of those titles are Anime.
Broadcasters get in on the short-form act
British broadcaster Channel 4 has said it plans to spend £1 million on new short-form content. It has doubled its investment in Comedy Blaps series, and commissioned over 120 comedy shorts of Sparks, which is intended for a young audience reached through social media. The BBC is also investing in short-form Comedy, with social media-themed Sorry and Lazy Susan. Four of these will be distributed direct via iPlayer.
Olivia Deane, Analyst at Ampere Analysis, commented: “Short-form content is growing strongly, and we expect to see it boom – both in English speaking markets and Asia where it’s well-established. Attractive to large and small players alike, short-form offers the opportunity to experiment with high production values at a smaller scale. SVoD newcomer Quibi, only producing short-form content, is already the largest commissioner of bite-size television. Quibi, along with other smaller niche platforms, has an exciting opportunity to chase the existing audiences of streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon. This is a market the mainstream broadcasters don’t want to miss out on, and both Channel 4 and the BBC are making forays into the world of short-form shows.”
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