The Digital News Report 2016 prepared by Reuters Institute has thrown up a major surprise. According to the report, “video news is not growing as fast as expected.” Though the survey did not include India, the digital news space around the world as also in India has seen a surge in the production of video content in the recent past. However, the survey findings show that majority of the people are still consuming news through text stories.
“One surprise in this year’s data is that online news video appears to be growing slowly than expected. Across all 26 countries only a quarter (24%) of the respondents said they access online news video in a given week,” the report stated.
It added that it “represents surprisingly weak growth given the explosive growth and prominence on the supply side.” As per the report, 78% favoured reading news and watched video news occasionally only when they found something “interesting”.
“When pressed, the main reason people give for not using more video is that they find text quicker and more convenient (41%).”
Others reasons for not watching video news included annoyance caused by pre-roll advertisements (35%) and buffering speed (20%). An equal percentage (19%) of people felt that videos don’t add to text stories and preferred watching videos on a bigger screen.
Responding to the survey findings, Hindustan Times Mobile Editor Yusuf Omar stated that if people find text faster then it means that online news videos need to be shorter.
“NewsWhip recently studied the viral video factories of Buzzfeed, AJ+, Daily Mail Online, etc. The average video was of 1 minute. That duration will only get shorter as video producers compete with listicles, tweets and other text formats that tell you what you need to know in under 400 words,” said Omar.
He argued that data costs in India will fall thereby increasing connectivity and making the internet faster which would invariably impact the video scene in the country. He asserted that the developing world would “massively change the global video digestion” in the next five years.
“Videos are becoming more text heavy, as most Facebook viewers for example watch stories with the audio off. We might see an amalgamation of text and video stories into one hybrid format,” he added.
Omar also mentioned that the consumers felt betrayed by pre-roll advertisements and banner ads. He predicted that media companies would increasingly move towards sponsored content and native advertising in videos to meet the bills.
Unlike Omar who does video for a print organization, Roshan Tamang heads the web operations for television broadcaster CNN-News 18. “I firmly believe that format is critical as far as digital is concerned. The very first three seconds should capture your imagination and draw the viewer in,” said Tamang, Editor at News 18.com.
He was of the opinion that television news packages that are uploaded online do not perform well because of their format which involves an anchor brief followed by the story visuals.
“On our website we have two video sections. The first section consists of television news videos whereas the second one carries videos produced by the multimedia team for digital consumption,” said Tamang.
He mentioned that while 750-800 television news videos are uploaded on the News 18 website on a monthly basis, only 40-50 digital news videos go live in a month. But Google Analytics have recorded that videos produced by News 18 specifically for digital consumption have got twice the traction and fared much better on social media.
Very much like Omar, Tamang felt that online news videos need to be of shorter duration to be successful. Despite the findings of the Reuters Institute concerning the sluggish growth of online videos globally, digital editors in the country sound optimistic about the future of online news videos hinting towards further increase in their number.