The average online video length has been under 3 minutes for quite sometime, mostly due to the short attention spans of users surfing the Web. People don’t watch Web video like they do the T.V. Or do they?
Hulu.com, a video site that displays TV shows and movies, is changing the way viewers watch Web video and is likely the reason behind the increase of average video length online, according to comScore’s most recent report, which showed that the average length of video in April was 3.5 minutes in comparison to 2.7 minutes a year ago and 2.9 last July.
Hulu moving up in the ranks
Now, I am no expert, but the topic interests me and I conducted my thesis on the subject. Browsing through the reports, one will notice and increase in average video length with an increase in the percentage share of videos viewed on the Web. In July 2008, Hulu had 1.0 percent of videos viewed that month, or roughly 171 million. In April 2009, that percentage increased to 2.4 percent, with 396 million videos viewed. It is a jump from number 8 in videos viewed, to number 3 (Google sites at number one and Fox Interactive Media at number two, respectively). What else is interesting is that though Hulu had 2.4 percent of videos viewed, they had 4.2 percent of all minutes spent watching.
What does this mean for news video
Perhaps Web video viewers are more willing to watch longer video than experts had anticipated. The key trend to follow will be to see whether this changes the behavior of video producers in adjusting the length of video or its content to keep users longer on their sites. For news sites, this could mean a more “entertaining” approach to video. Some sites already are experimenting with this type of content in the form of webisodes, which mostly consist of “talking heads” video (i.e. Star Tribune’s News Break. However, users are easily distracted (according to an eye-tracking study from several years ago) when watching this type of video and a different approach may be looming.