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Ankit Agarwal

It’s micro boredom that makes snackables popular, making 85% of digital content viewers in India consume short-form video content like candy canes at Christmas. Micro boredom is the phenomenon where people get bored for a minute or two, pick up their smartphone, scroll a bit, and then put it back. Those few seconds are enough to satisfy the need for instant gratification. 

Social media platforms realised the opportunity those minute or two represented and they responded with features that support short-form content creation.

The rise of short content features on socials

When we think of short content apps, TikTok comes to mind. But long before ByteDance developed it, Vine was the first app to bring the winds of change. It made six or seven second long, looping video clips prevalent and that sowed the seed.

Snapchat built stories in 2013, and from there on, every social platform copied the feature to cater to snackable content. Instagram now has Reels and Stories. Twitter has fleets. YouTube is working on Shorts. Facebook may have hit a dead end with Lasso, but they’re making a comeback with ‘Short Videos.’

The acceptance of these features made it apparent that to engage people in today’s frenetic world; content has to be in a newer, shorter format.

The emergence of snackables on OTT platforms

OTT platforms are now giving due attention to short-form content. The traction it got on social networks became their impetus to jump on the bandwagon.

Eros Now released Quickie, where each original series has 8 to 10 episodes. Each episode is 6 to10 minutes long. Zee5 took the middle ground. Instead of producing original short series, it launched HiPi. Available within the Zee5 app, it allows users to create and upload videos of up to 90 seconds, along with music tracks, filters and visual effects.

Netflix has launched a slew of series with episodes packed in digestible 12 to 17 minutes. Amazon Prime video is rumoured to be working on including bite-sized content, all under 15 minutes. Disney+ has a whole library of short animated films and series.

OTT platforms embracing short content became a bellwether for broadcasters too. Even the likes of the BBC are investing in digestible content, taking short-form content the whole circle.

Why the race to make a presence on smartphones  

Why is it that TV channels, OTTs, and social networks are competing to dip their toes in the short content space? Because the most active users are millennials and gen Z, and they access the internet through their phones. 

Small screens don’t favour short-burst scrolling, like when reading an in-depth article. They’re not built for long hours of binge-watching. And they don’t facilitate fast loading speeds. In a gist, content consumption on mobile needs quick format. 

Factor in that both demographics have short attention spans, and snackable content turns into a necessity. Their affinity for video content and original content are reason three, and four, everyone is vying to include short format.

One last thing that moved the needle for short content is long commutes. Indian users took to snackable content because they face extensive travel hours, and that is the best time to munch on short videos.

The brand perspective

Aside from these pull factors, there’s a critical push factor behind the rise. Brands discerned that short-form video brings in hard engagement. So, creating bite-sized content leads to post saves, shares, story tap backs and comments. And that drives their virality higher.

The cautionary tale of Quibi

Stats and experience prove that short content space is rising. But does the dramatic fall of Quibi herald a different future, or was it the exception to the rule? 

The app launched in April 2020 after months of fanfare. It offered bite-sized and original shows starring some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. 

Available only on mobile, users could enjoy a show in 10 minutes or less. These brief and no-commitment episodes were ideal for watching while taking a lunch break or sitting in a metro. Yet, Quibi didn’t last long. The app called it quits within six months because it failed to lure sufficient users. 

The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown shoulder most of the blame for Quibi’s crash, but part of it lies with the content itself. 

People don’t want small episodic chunks on their phones. They want a silly TikTok video that entertains. They want a popular creator, making them laugh. They want short videos chock full of information. For anything else, they prefer a bigger screen.

The learning here is to avoid being lost in the midst of antiquities, invest in short-form content but make sure it is the right type of content.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)