Nic delivered a terrific assessment of the current state of video in media, leaning on insights from the Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report.

Here is some of what was covered.

Social media is disrupting TV as chief news source

Video means that social media users do not have to turn the TV set on to catch up with the news. Discovery and in-depth analysis are both possible on social.

The chart below shows 21% of 18-24 year olds say social is their main source of news, with only 27% of the same age group identifying TV.

Some of the most viewed coverage of last year’s Paris attacks was created with social media.

This included the Bataclan Periscope footage from a journalist’s window, while the most viewed Vine of the moment caught an explosion at the France vs. Germany game on that night.

Vertical and square video increasing 

29% of video viewing time is now vertical according to research by KPCB. More vertical and square video is on the way.

This is encouraged of course by more people watching on mobile.

Facebook Live uses a square frame, neatly circumventing the issue of landscape or portrait and allowing interactions to be displayed beneath.

Mobile video advertising is also more effective in the full vertical (see The Guardian’s new ad format).

Texted video increasing 

Short, texted (with overlays instead of sound) videos are becoming more popular. They grab attention quickly and often drive an emotional reaction.

The Guardian did a lot of texted video explainers for its Panama Papers coverage, from 90-seconds to 2.5-minutes in length.

Click through below to see an example from the Guardian. 

guardian texted video

Gaining reach with an emotional angle 

NowThis has perfected finding the emotional angle of content and publishes to a range of social channels, as its website rather pithily points out.


The video below is the perfect example of emotional video striking a chord. It has been repackaged for mobile.

Cutting with some text and music gets rid ‘of the artifice and pomposity of television’, says Nic. Video content doesn’t have to be slick, but it does need to connect.

Live streaming needs a different approach

Obviously, new styles of mobile video are thrown into relief by the different approach needed for live streaming.

Buzzfeed got a hold of this early, amping up the anticipation with its watermelon and elastic band experiment.

Reinventing social video 

Back to making shorter video more social, visualisations and overlays are starting to get more sophisticated than simply text.

Vox video has done this with a Matt Yglesias sit-down interview with Barack Obama for social.

Take a look, it’s pretty compelling.

Experimentation in long form 

The New York Times produced an experiment in long form video about the creation of a track by Justin Bieber, Diplo and Skrillex.

The video is adaptive across dekstop and mobile and features interactive elements that mirror the track itself.

Different media strategies

Investment is being seen in video by a range of media companies, each with a different strategy.

  • The Guardian, NYT and The Economist are looking at long form video.
  • The Washington Post has put TV and video at the heart of its newsroom.
  • The BBC will launch its ’10 to watch’ initiative aimed at mobile.
  • NowThis has used automation to produce around 100 videos a week.
  • BuzzFeed has an LA based production unit, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, with 250 staff and has separate channels such as Tasty and Nifty.

buzzfeed motion pictures 

What will Facebook do?

1. The Facebook video tab.

Nic doesn’t think this will work because mobile is inherently snacky and viewers want to watch one thing they arrived for, rather than lining up a whole bunch of other content.

2. A further push into Live.

This will only work, Nic argues, for those with exclusive content. Sports is important here.

3. 360 video and VR.

Such as the Star Wars experience.

What’s next?

A lot of video development so far has been driven by commercial interests of social media platforms and publishers.

It must be highlighted here that 75% of us mostly read news on the internet and only occasionally use video.

There are still technical barriers for video to overcome, but 40% find text simply more convenient (easier to read on the go).

On the technical side of things, one of the most interesting developments could be Wibbitz, a platform that creates video from text stories, commoditising video content (see some examples here).