Rise of Web Video, Beyond 2-Minute Clips (longer is inevitable)

By mattdentler | Matt Dentler's Blog July 6, 2009 at 5:20AM

Rise of Web Video, Beyond 2-Minute Clips (longer is inevitable)
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Don't forget: the Lumiere Brothers' first documented motion pictures of the late 1890s (arguably the first "body of work" in the history of the film medium) had a running time between 30 and 50 seconds. Eventually, technology and consumer habit made motion pictures longer and, thus, more monetizable. Is the future of web video getting longer? Probably so. While the dominant mentality for video online is "keep it short," statistics show that consumers are willing to spend more and more time watching video off the web. There are many reasons why: great connection speed, nicer monitors, web-enabled TV sets, and so on. At the New York Times, Brian Stelter takes a close look at the industry of online short-form video, and how it's evolving:

Two years ago when the comedian David Wain was stitching together the first episode of his series “Wainy Days,” he called Rob Barnett, the founder of the video distribution site My Damn Channel, and asked whether a nine-minute video would seem drawn out. Mr. Barnett deferred to the creator, and an hour later Mr. Wain called back with his mind made up: he would slice the first episode into three parts.

“I bet you, if this phone call happened today, we’d go with a nine-minute piece,” Mr. Barnett said. “I think it comes down to quality winning out over minutes and seconds.”

In short, the storytelling is superseding the stopwatch. “If there’s good storytelling and good production values, people are willing to engage with the content,” said Eric Berger, a senior vice president of Crackle, the Sony video site.

More than anything else, the longer viewing spans may speak to the maturation of the medium itself. Mr. Konkle said that the first kinetoscopes, in the 1890s, were about 30 seconds long, because the format required outrageously long strips of film.

“It was also accepted as fact that 30 seconds made for a good kinetoscope. This is what filmmakers thought the audience could handle,” Mr. Konkle said, drawing a parallel to the early days of online video. “It probably felt like a giant dangerous leap to short films of three minutes.”