Adventures in Digital Series Land #105
by Leesa Dean
Ah, the age-old question: Does size matter? Maybe not, according to the IAB. And yes, I’m talking about online content. Specifically, how long episodes should be. This is a REALLY important consideration when you’re putting together a digital series.
For the past few years, the going practice was to have each episode be between 2-5 minutes long. Anything longer: a death knell. And I kinda learned that the hard way.
When I started, I had absolutely no idea how long to make my episodes so each one ended up being between about 6-8 minutes. Or longer! My thinking was, it makes sense for vlogs to be shorter, but I wanted to show off my work. I was still thinking with a tv/cable mindset vs. a YouTube one.
On YouTube you can gauge viewer retention and see where people drop off. In fact, that’s the biggest way YouTube rates your videos. Episodes that have longer retention (and yes, huge views) are more searchable on the site. But retention trumps views in the YouTube world.
It makes sense to have shorter episodes, solely to keep eyeballs on your show. And to bulid up a fanbase. I believe shorter episodes lend themselves more to being shared. For a small indie series, my first time around, I didn’t get huge drop-off but I’m convinced that if my episodes were shorter, they would have been more shareable.
And while these new statistics show that people are are willing to watch longer episodes on mobile, I still don’t think it’s a great idea. Especially if you’re a beginner.
This week my production partner and I had a strategy session with someone at a a major network. He reinforced the smaller is better concept for digital but even he admitted some of this stuff is very hard to predict.
Either way, for the new series, I’m making the episodes shorter than I did the first time around. They’re all less than 5 minutes.The good things come in small packages model. Aside from trying to have something be funny and engaging, I’m hoping for more shareability this time around.