Netflix trialing short-form content for its mobile apps

Watching movies and hour-long TV shows on a smartphone can be more of a chore than an enjoyable experience, and it appears that Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) is taking notice. According to GigaOm, the SVOD provider is testing short clips on its mobile apps that run about two to five minutes. Current clips include key scenes from TV shows and movies or bits from stand-up comedy specials.

Netflix cafe short form video

With research finding that 87 percent of mobile sessions last less than 10 minutes, Netflix is reportedly considering short-form content. (Image source: Netflix)

The impetus behind the trial is two-fold, according to the article: the continuing growth in sales of mobile devices, and recent data that found that "87 percent of all mobile sessions last less than ten minutes," which is far shorter than any of the content in Netflix's current catalog.

A July report by The Diffusion Group found that almost half of U.S. adults who have access to broadband use mobile video apps at least once a month, with Netflix as one of the top-cited apps viewed.

While its short-form content tests may not lead to a permanent content category, Netflix is certainly following a trend among programmers anxious to learn not just whether consumers have access to OTT content, but how they're using that content. Behavior across different devices, from the TV screen down to the smartphone, is getting a lot more scrutiny the past few months.

RSG Media's Tom Siegman, EVP of innovation, strategy and client relations, told FierceOnlineVideo in a recent interview that programmers and distributors are increasingly looking for better ways to capitalize on their content libraries. RSG provides metadata, analysis and related solutions like windowing and licensing management to clients that include cable and satellite operators, broadcasters and others building their TV Everywhere presence.

"(T)hey're asking, which content works best through which app?" he said. "Tracing that traffic, doing the data analysis (and discovering), 'Oh, this content will really bust out on tablets as opposed to the big screen. Maybe we should just acquire tablet and mobile rights for it.'"

Short-form content at the moment is more germane to the mobile viewer, and broadcasters, MVPDs and other distributors have become aware of this behavior trend, Siegman noted, adding that "with TV Everywhere, you're watching on a smartphone or tablet. It's short-form video, mostly. Some long form, but not 14 hours of long form. Not yet."

Mobile video apps provided by broadcasters made up 25 percent of apps cited by users in TDG's study, while those provided by cable operators made up 19 percent.

With TV Everywhere providers beginning to nip at its heels content-wise, and an expansion into mobile-saturated Europe well under way, Netflix is undoubtedly looking for any edge to retain OTT viewers.

For more:
- GigaOm has this story
- The Wall Street Journal has this story (sub. req.)

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Related articles:
Mobile video apps gain among U.S. adults: 49% now use them
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TV Everywhere in a disruptive market: paddling through choppy waters

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