NYC TV Week: How Long Is Too Long for Short-form Video?

Next TV Summit panel says no magic length, but past 15 minutes may be the limit

New York – Short-form video clips can still drive viewership on OTT platforms, according to a panel session Wednesday (Oct. 18) at the Multichannel News/B&C NextTV Summit. part of NYC Television Week. And though there is no magic number as to how long an audience will pay attention to the videos, 15 minutes seems to be the limit.

Read More: Complete Coverage of NYC TV Week

Comcast Watchable VP of programming Craig Parks said that while he has always chafed at the term – "short-form" implies “less than” to him – he added that it is increasingly valuable. But the length of the clips, he said, depends on what the content is being used for.

“If you’re cooking a pizza, it doesn’t need to be any longer than it is,” Parks said at the panel session entitled “The Transformation of Storytelling in the OTT/ On-Demand Era. “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.

Read More: Complete Coverage of the Next TV Summit

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

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 7-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.

The panelists saw mobile video as being the biggest disruptor to their businesses, but that too can be a perfect vehicle for short-form content.

“Let’s do more for mobile," said Revry CEO and co-founder Damian Pelliccione. “I don’t have any competitors in this space because we get to set the bar.”