There is no denying that video is the go-to method for distributing content. What would previously be conveyed in text format, which was somewhat time-consuming for both the distributor and the reader, can now be shrunk into a quick and catchy video and spread across the globe at the click on a button. The fact is, 1.8 million words is the value of one minute of video, according to Dr. James McQuivey, Forrester. A staggering statistic by any measure.
But how exactly did video come to define the internet and ultimately completely change the way we interact online? The growth in global bandwidth is the key facilitator that allowed this transition to take place, but the software that utilizes this, how it has grown and how it has changed, also deserves some attention.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, YouTube. Although this wasn’t the first video hosting service, with Vimeo launching one year previously in 2004 and shareyourworld.com even before that in 1997-2001, it’s fair to say that it was the game-changer and has since been the most influential. After the launch of their beta test site in May 2005, the site grew more rapidly, and in July 2006 the company announced that not only were more than 65,000 new videos were being uploaded every day, but also that the site was receiving significant traffic, of over 100 million video views per day. In late 2014 it was reported that more than 1 billion people use YouTube everyday, with upwards of 4 billion videos watched over a 24-hour period – this equates to over 6 billion hours of video watched per month! A textbook case of runaway growth.
More recently, Vine has also reported some very impressive statistics, which gave them even more cause for celebration as they came into their second year. The company now has over 40 million registered users and is seeing 1.5 billion loops, or plays, a day of its six-second videos. Interestingly, although the number of videos uploaded and played per day continues to rise at an unstoppable rate, it’s possible that the popularity of the Vine app is falling. How could that be? Perhaps it’s a problem of branding, but it’s more likely that micro-video sites will never be able to command the sort of traffic giants like YouTube do.
Social Media has played a parallel role in promoting the consumption of video online. Although video hosting and streaming sites like YouTube and Vine are where the popularity of video began, social media is undoubtedly the direction that the trend is heading. In November 2014, the share of Facebook video posts exceeded the number of YouTube videos shared on Facebook for the first time. And according to Ad Age, people around the world are now posting 75% more videos to Facebook than they did a year ago, with a 360% increase in the number of videos showing up in people’s news feeds.
It’s not just Facebook that is experiencing such impressive results. Twitter recently launched Periscope, just behind the new video streaming service, Meerkat – both are new and revolutionary ways in which people now share live events via social media – something that was explored in a previous post ‘What’s next for live video streaming?’.
Since the launch, the two have been the hot topic of discussion. A host of articles debating which is the better application and whether the new addiction to what was once known as ‘over-sharing’ is a step too far, have been popping up daily – masked only be live videos of someone singing in the car or making a Quiche. The fact remains, whether or not you agree or support such applications is now irrelevant. Live video streaming is additive, expected and is certainly settling down for the long haul.
So, where does this leave text-based content?
Text will always have a prime place, but increasingly it will adopt a complementary role alongside video. Smartphone content will be key here, with publishers having to be mindful of how much text people are prepared to consume alongside a video. However, long-form content will never be replaced entirely by video. It’s in finding this happy medium that we’ll see broadcasters and publishers center a lot of their strategy in the coming years ahead.