Is snackable short-form content the next big thing in entertainment?

Looking back at Quibi’s quick demise, it’s tempting to say the answer to this question is no. However, a swath of new releases from established media and entertainment companies suggests otherwise. Netflix, YouTube and Facebook are all staking their claims to short-form content. And streaming platform Roku has plans for Quibi’s own roster of shows—which it acquired in January 2021—with a short-form library launch planned for later in the year.

Following TikTok’s blockbusting success in 2020, entertainment leaders are taking a second look at bite-sized broadcasting—and are paving the way for a more structured short-form media landscape.

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YouTube Shorts
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Google is supporting short-form content creation with YouTube Shorts. The program, which launched in beta in the United States on March 18, 2021, lets users create quick, catchy videos à la TikTok. Creators can string multiple video clips together, record with music, remix audio from other videos, control speed settings and overlay text, with a new functionality to incorporate audio from any video in YouTube’s extensive library coming in the next few months.

The platform unlocks “a new playground of creativity” for YouTube and points to the growing cultural clout of short-form content—plus a new engagement model for brands. “The way we think about it is: television has a different business model than movies, YouTube has a different business model than television, and short-form video is going to have a different business model than long-form YouTube,” Todd Sherman, product lead for YouTube Shorts, told the Verge.

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Netflix Fast Laughs

Netflix is betting on quick engagement via short-form content. On March 3, the streaming giant launched its new Fast Laughs tab, which includes a TikTok-esque feed of comedy clips from Netflix shows and movies. The platform’s mobile app users can interact with an LOL reaction button, save a show or movie in their to-watch queue with a quick add option, and post clips on WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter using shareable links.

Facebook is also opening the door to short-form content. The social media platform is piloting a new feature in India—Facebook’s largest market in terms of audience size and, coincidentally, one of the markets in which TikTok is currently banned—that lets users share Instagram Reels on Facebook, bringing short-form video to timelines. Simultaneously, Facebook is incentivizing short-form content creation across markets. The company announced in March 2021 that it would begin offering creators revenue for short-form video and states: “We’re especially focused on short-form video monetization.”

Scrollable, easy to digest and commitment-free, short-form content is gaining momentum—offering brands a new formula for viewer engagement.

Main image courtesy of YouTube