HOW WE’LL WATCH IN 2009
That’s really the question. Should we be adapting our distribution and content to new ways in which our audiences will be watching our work, or is all this new media talk just a wild goose chase? CineVegas’s Roger Trinch has some thoughts in a thoughtful blog post that launches into ’09.
Short form content is online king
Duh, right? Then why are companies still trying to push for feature film distribution through widgets and the like? Who wants to watch a two hour movie on a 2-inch by 2-inch size player? Go to what’s this year’s success story, Hulu, and see what the top 20 viewed videos are. Most are between 10 – 20 minutes with a smattering of 44 minute episodes. The first feature film doesn’t show up until #27 with the THE FIFTH ELEMENT. The fact that a big Hollywood film on a popular video site that’s being shown for free can’t even break into the top 20 reveals a lot about our viewing habits.
The Wild Wild West of the web is a 50/50 affair. 50% of it is spent looking for specific content while the other 50% is spent just exploring the frontier. It’s this latter half of our online habit that distributors rely on to try and hook you into viewing their film. Hence sticking a film widget or library widget on a website sidebar hoping for you to click and view, but that just doesn’t happen, not when your initial 30 minutes of surfing the web can turn into a 2 hour investment. The best way to work with this is to show the first 5 – 10 minutes and if the viewer wants to see more then give them the option to purchase the rest either by finishing it online or downloading to a TV set top box. I saw a great interview with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at The Conversation where he said that most customers viewing a “Watch Instantly” film online who make it past the 5 minute mark end up finishing the film. (Interesting to note that Amazon Video On Demand only allows you to see the first 2.5 minutes before demanding that you pay.)