[Editor's Note: The following post was written by Michael Lustig, founder of TheLip.tv, a studio that creates and streams high quality, informative, meaningful and culturally relevant long-form content.]
Contemporary perception is that “snackable,” episodic content wins the race. But let me put forth a radical idea – one that actually isn’t so ‘radical’ as much as it is uncharted: TV and Web TV are the same as it pertains to content length.
There was time when upload restrictions and bandwidth limitations created a need for content to be short. Then the emergence of aggregating sites like the Huffington Post and social streams like Twitter created the perfect environment for the granular content explosion.
There’s half a dozen behavioral triggers in granular content that drive us to click: Funny, Disgusting, Violent, Titillation, The Unexpected or the Controversial. Combine them and the effect is even more powerful. We click, we watch. Our brains fire endorphins in reaction. We end up on a junk food treadmill forever mindlessly looking and clicking, looking, clicking.
Are we better off? Are we smarter? Do we have more insight? Are our connections more satisfying? Or are we just exhausted and overwhelmed by the onslaught of granular stimuli that flow by in our streams everyday?
Consider long form content the ‘superfood’ of the Web – a viable source for reliable information that doesn’t come with external influences and pressures. Long-form creates a rich experience that can inform viewers and participants well beyond the traditional broadcast model.
Here’s another shocker: long-form content on the Web is already here, and it has an audience.
So what is long-form content? We think it’s anything over 20 minutes. When I founded TheLip.tv, the goal was to super-serve targeted audiences by creating deep rich interviews with the personalities and thought leaders from those niches. Our shows are long. We average between 45 minutes to an hour per episode. The average viewer is staying in for 36 minutes and long tail retention (after the first 10 days) are 75% and sometimes higher. This interaction isn’t unique to TheLip.
Even networks know viewers will tune in to a 30-minute episode of Modern Family just as easily as an hour-long episode of Once Upon a Time – on or offline. There is no distinction. This goes beyond network shows to those streamed directly to the Web. For instance, the average TED Talk is over ten minutes and now approaching 20. Buzzed about talk show What’s Trending averages about 45 minutes. The Young Turks counts over 30-million views a month and produces several shows that average between 20 minutes and 45 minutes.
While TV is America’s hobby and it’s never going away, what, how, and where we view is changing, not for how long we stay tuned.
Long and short form content will co-exist side by side.
Who is the audience? Cord Cutters. People are intelligent and realize that TV is for the most part is a huge rip-off. The more choices there are on cable, the less we watch. Cable operators won’t allow consumers to un-bundle and only purchase the wanted content, so cords are cut and a new wave of consumers flock to the Internet for their content.
Consumers are smart and know exactly what they want. And many aren’t casual consumers — they are deeply interested in targeted subject matter and are looking for quality information. They want to dig beyond skin level to reach the nervous system and life blood of a project or subject matter.
We know that long-form content on the Web appeals to this enlightened consumer. When we air our interview segments on wine or media, for instance, we know the smartest and savviest of consumers are plugging in and really soaking in the content.
Of course there’s a large contingent of detractors who say, “Nobody wants long form content…people no longer have attention spans…who has time?” These detractors? They’re wrong. Tablets and mobile devices have created the quintessential viewing platform for video anywhere and anytime. Even better: consumers know this and it’s natural for them to stream this content to their mobile devices.
Within the next 18 months, long-form web content will cease to be an outlier and it will just…be. The content will be the highest quality, consumers will be happier and may not even know where the content came from. When that happens, The Lip will be there.
Michael Lustig is the Founder of TheLip.tv, a studio that creates and streams high quality, informative, meaningful and culturally relevant long-form content. A veteran of the entertainment and music industries, Lustig has managed legendary artists including Smashing Pumpkins, Bryan Ferry, Cocteau Twins, Curve, and the Refreshments and produced tracks for some of Hollywood’s biggest studio films. He’s also worked with well-known filmmakers such as Mel Gibson, Oliver Parker and Wim Wenders.
Based in Los Angeles, Lustig founded TheLip.tv in December 2011 and currently houses five original long form shows: Media Mayhem, The Wine Down, Bring Your Own Doc, The Intentional Parent, and Complete Control.