Will Long-form Content Drive More HD?

A rather unexpected and pleasant surprise for major content providers is news from Nielsen that mobile video customers seem to prefer long-form shows to shorter content. This is also reflected in the explosive growth of Web sites such as Hulu and CBS.com.

Those shorter offerings have been specifically produced for mobile and/or online platforms—perhaps based on the assumption that smaller screens meant smaller attention spans. But beyond their costs, these short-from series and other content have no readily available means to effectively promote themselves.

The good news is that longer is better. In other words, that full-length “Grey’s Anatomy” straight from its first-run Thursday night on ABC and the new half-hour episode of “The Office” on NBC that same evening is what mobile users want—on everything from a 2-inch smart phone screen to a new 19-inch 16:9 LCD computer monitor.

While this could also be good news for broadcast stations who have popular local content (or maybe secure the rights to provide their respective network’s popular shows) using the ATSC Mobile TV standard approaching ramp up this summer, it could also speed the flow of HD (or near-HD) content to any number of as yet-devised mobile platforms of the near-future. (And don’t forget that portable 1080p Blu-ray players could soon be as ubiquitous as today’s portable DVD units that every third passenger seems to carry onboard flights these days.)

While some higher-resolution content that is billed as “HD” already is available at numerous Web sites such as ABC.com, HD’s share of overall content could grow rapidly in coming years if users continue to prefer long-form shows—especially given the fact that nearly everything in primetime today (and virtually all major sports events) are produced in HD. Therefore, broadcasters and other content providers are already building huge inventories of HD programming that can be veined out to an array of other platforms without costly editing alterations or special short-form content production. Stay tuned.