How the world, especially “millennial world,” consumes media content has changed dramatically. The change has resulted in cord cutters and cord nevers who consumer traditional content in a decidedly untraditional OTT manner.
It has also resulted in a change in the definition of media content with such entities as Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOGC) YouTube, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FBB) and Asian messaging apps such as Kakao and Line.
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The Snapchat Phenomenon
One messaging app, Snapchat, reported in the registration for its upcoming initial public offering that its users watch 10 billion videos a day. That beats Facebook’s daily video consumption rate by a cool 2 billion.
It also makes apps like Snapchat and Facebook full-fledged media companies or, if you will, a new kind of television. Snapchat videos are only 10 seconds long but several can be strung together to form minutes long “stories.”
Viewing Vs Sharing
Since Snapchat has no social feedback that makes it even more like television. The Wall Street Journal describes it as “reality TV starring people you know.” Snapchat has become a form of escapism with no pressure to comment or share.
Curated snaps on various topics provide the equivalent of “channels” for viewers to enjoy. Given the backlash on social media, especially Facebook, by people who are burned out from political bickering, Snapchat may be emerging at just the right time for a viewing audience that wants to be entertained without involvement.
As a business model, Snapchat functions more like television than YouTube. YouTube features 15 to 30 second ads at the top of a video which have become something of an annoyance to consumers.
Snapchat’s ad placement is actually more frequent than YouTube’s but the ads are much shorter at least than 10 seconds. That duration doesn’t seem to irritate viewers as much as a 30 second “commercial.”
Facebook Fights Back
As the Snapchat model grew, Facebook didn’t stand still. The company has begun adding Snapchat-like features such as Stories on Instagram to maintain viewership and reclaim some of the younger set who abandoned it earlier.
The feature, remarkable like Snapchat, allows user to create text, phot and video montages that disappear after 24 hours. The transient nature of videos is very important to younger users who worry that things they post on Facebook will resurface years later causing embarrassment.
Facebook’s admission that it too wants to become an alternative to television was cemented when the company introduced longer videos into its news fee via Facebook Live. There’s even a rumor Facebook is working on television apps for set top boxes that would allow users to easily connect to Facebook, including those longer videos, when sitting in from of the TV.
As attention spans shorten and companies like Snapchat and Facebook attempt to remake themselves as media conglomerates, the once distinct line between social media and television may disappear forever.