Are Bite-Sized Serials The Future?
If the flurry of articles in the past week are anything to go by, short, digestible original series are the next step in the evolution of TV. From Snapchat’s deal with NBCU to develop a slate of shows for the social network to BBC’s announcement that they will be making 5-10 minute “object-based media”, it seems that some industry leaders believe that getting a quick fix of a show is the future.
Will this catch on? All the social media platforms are either trying to buy rights to major sports broadcasts or heavily investing in original content to attract users, but up until now we haven’t seen a slate of original content so focused on the sub-10 minute episode format.
At Facebook’s recent announcement of further investment in its ‘Watch’ platform, VP of Media Partnerships Nick Grudin suggested that while some of the shows they have funded are 10-15 minutes in length, they are looking to build them up to a “standard TV half hour” (20-25 mins). Facebook’s decision keeps them in line with the industry big hitters of Amazon and Netflix, sticking (roughly) to a TV format and making programs accessible on the go either via streaming or downloading. Yet Snap Inc.’s latest deal brings them inline with former Disney & Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg’s vision for the future at WndrCo. In a talk he gave earlier this year at the Cannes Lions, Mr. Katzenberg outlined his “new Everest” – shows with full story arcs but limited to 6-10 minutes per episode with a traditional TV production value. He suggests that this format allows for easier consumption, an exciting creative challenge for showrunners and a more integrated opportunity for advertisers.
Having raised $600 million in investment, Katzenberg is looking to separate WndrCo from the likes of YouTube by upping the spend spend-per-minute on programming. Where the average premium YouTube generated content averages at around $500-$1000 per minute, he suggests that this short form content should be having the same investment as TV at around $100-$125,000 per minute, and even one day reaching a Game Of Thrones level of $300-$350,000.
Neither WndrCo nor Snapchat have yet to air programming in this way, but with so much investment and the diminishing concentration spans of consumers, bite-sized serials could be the way forward.
(Cover Image: Alexandre Testu)
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