Ananya Pathak

Firework - Future of short video format

A presentation by Firework India's chief executive officer and managing director Sunil Nair at afaqs!' vdonxt asia.

When Firework India's chief executive officer and managing director Sunil Nair started his presentation around the future of short video media at afaqs!' vdonxt asia 2020, he laid the foundation by quoting the chief executive officer of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, who said, “We're moving from a world where computing power was scarce to a place where it now is almost limitless, and where the true scarce commodity is increasingly human attention.”

“We are currently in an attention deficit environment. We are basically heading towards a situation where we are competing with the attention span of a goldfish – nine seconds – and that's where short video format comes into play,” Nair mentioned.

Nair pointed out that the average time spent on content is reducing drastically. Pointing out that the short video format started evolving in China, he said the reason it gained momentum was because of the change in content consumption patterns. "Most of it is consumed during commute time – in metros or buses or during short breaks at work or in between lectures. During this hour, one cannot be expected to watch a 40-minute episode on Netflix or any content that needs them to commit to. Even the network disruption in metros won't allow that.”

He compared the consumption of videos to the working of the dating app -Tinder. "Like on Tinder you can swipe left to profiles you aren't interested in, you can always skip the videos you do not like."

Speaking of the short attention span of consumers, he pointed out that selfies take three seconds for the viewer to interact with, while Instagram takes about four seconds. TikTok - another short video platform, takes about six seconds to interact with. At the end of the pyramid are long video formats - about 40-minute long, served on OTT platforms.

Short form video is the primary new driver for consumer engagement. The media industry is shifting towards video-based content from traditional text and image-based messaging. “If you want to retain your business, it is absolutely necessary that you interact with the audience through videos. It does not necessarily have to be a five minute one. Short format videos are the interests of Gen Z because of the deficit of time and attention,” he quipped.

Nair says this is where Firework - which is a decentralised short video network, comes into play. Born in Silicon Valley, the brand now has an office and a 22 member team in Mumbai too. “We have taken the space between the professionally generated content (PGC) like Netflix and Amazon Prime and user generated content (UGC) – defining a new category – 'Professional User Generated Content'.” The brand runs workshops and programmes to help people become creators.

Nair also laid emphasis on the fact that short videos are a media format, which are not restricted to any application. “Originals does not equal Netflix. Originals is a format, Netflix is a platform,” he explained.

Speaking of the Firework network, he shared that it is contextual to where it exists.” If we work with Zomato, the videos would be around food and lifestyle; if we work with a parenting website, the videos would be around parenting and child care, and so on,” he elaborated. The brand caters to 32 categories, with over 4.5 million videos available over the network.

Showcasing videos from the platform, Nair stated that it is possible to do short films in 30 seconds. In fact, some of the best ad films have been 30 seconders, he noted. “However, a 30 second video, unless it is placed on the correct platform, is not going to make sense to the audience.”

Towards the end of the presentation, clarifying the kind of videos Firework makes, Nair specified that these are only high quality videos catering to a premium mass audience. “We are a platform that allows you to do things which are different form the things that are commonly available,” he concluded.

Taking a question from the audience about a revenue model for content curators, he answered, “Yes, we do have it. The model is based on branded content and video ads. The other formats are live in more advanced markets like Japan but will soon come to India as well.”