[Journalism Internship] ‘Bballi bballi’ takes on new form in younger generations with short-form videos
Over the weekend, Lim Tae-young, a 21-year-old cadet at the Korea Military Academy (KMA), finished watching all nine episodes of the popular Netflix series “Squid Game” in just five hours.
How is that possible?
It’s because Lim watched it 1.5 times faster. The series has a total running time of 476 minutes, and Lim says he was able to save time by speeding it up. Lim says he watches almost everything at this speed, and Lim’s not alone.
Many in Generation Z, which refers to people born between the mid-to-late 1990s to early 2010s, find it difficult to sit through long hours of content and instead prefer to finish everything quickly, resulting in the popularity of the so-called short-form content.
Short-form refers to video content that lasts an average of 15 to 60 seconds. Usually it’s shorter than 10 minutes. This phenomenon began with the popularity of TikTok, a global short-form video platform released in 2016. According to a study titled "Short-form Content Trend" from the Korea Marketing Association in 2020, TikTok surpassed 1.5 billon downloads in 2019, emerging as the center of the short-form content platform. Following this trend, many other social media platforms launched short-form services. For example, Instagram launched Reels and YouTube launched Shorts.
What caused these short-form videos to boom?
The amount of content online has increased significantly. Recently, a lot of this content has been distributed through various OTT (Over The Top) services, such as Disney+. According to the aforementioned study by the Korea Marketing Association, “in this flood of content, people are trying various ways to consume a lot of content in a limited amount of time. Their method was to shorten the running time and make it more compact.”
Cadet Song Su-min, 21, from the Korea Military Academy, enjoys watching Reels in her free time. Song said "the biggest reason I watch short-form is because I am used to short summaries and it is difficult to watch long content.
"Rather than watching a long video, it's more fun to watch [multiple] short-forms on various topics," Song said.
According to the results of a research report titled "2020 short-form content trend" by Mezzo Media in 2020, a digital marketing solution company in Korea, statistics on the preferred length when watching a video showed that a majority of teenagers and people in their 20s prefer videos shorter than 10 minutes.
Fifty-six percent of people in their teens and 62 percent of people in their 20s prefer videos less than 10 minutes.
Korea Communications Commission’s "November 2021 Smartphone and PC Usage Behavior Report" also revealed that people have been increasing their smartphone usage time to watch more videos. According to the report, monthly smartphone usage time per person increased by 111 minutes compared to the previous year.
According to Wiseapp, a service that provides user behavior analysis data for apps, 51 percent of TikTok users were in their 20s or younger in 2020.
TikToker Baek Jong-min, who has 14 million subscribers, said in an interview with Newsis that "TikTok and Reels aim to be less than a minute, about 10 to 30 seconds. TikTok has a low entry barrier because it can be challenged really easily."
Time-effectiveness also plays a part in the younger generation's enthusiasm for short-form content. It is possible to produce results that reflect creators' creativity in a short amount of time.
"It takes about 1-2 hours to produce a video, so it's not burdensome," Shin Dong-ho, a TikToker who has 7 million followers, said in an interview with THE PR News.
TV programs and advertisements are also attracting consumers' attention by using the short-form platform. This means that short-form platforms have an enormous influence on both conservative public broadcasters and trend-sensitive advertisers. In addition, the Korean government highly evaluates the growth potential of short-form content. Short-form content has been selected as an official field in the Broadcast Video Content Production Support Project, co-hosted by the Korea Creative Content Agency and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. As such, the market size of short-form content is expected to grow further as various fields focus on them.
However, as sensational content gets more exposure on TikTok and YouTube Shorts, the voices of warning are growing.
Kim Chi-ho, a professor of cultural content at Hanyang University, pointed out during the 75th Good Internet Club, hosted by Korea Internet Corporations Association last September, that “it is necessary to invest more or put more effort into responding more pre-emptively, as it is a platform that teenagers use a lot, and the producer's responsibility is also needed for the content.”
BY PARK SEONG-WOOK, BAEK SEOK-HYUN, SONG JEONG-MIN [email@example.com]