MIPCOM: Maker Studios CEO Says Future of TV is Short-Form

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Ynon Kreiz, CEO of Maker Studios

Ynon Kreiz talks about how to capitalize on millennials' shortened attention spans

"Everyone is running after millennials," says Maker Studios CEO Ynon Kreiz, "and the millennials are running after us." 

In a keynote address at international television market MIPCOM on Monday, Kriez, a former CEO of TV production group Endemol and founder of Fox Kids Europe, explained why Disney agreed to pay up to $950 million for his online network and why he thinks the future of TV is very, very short.

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Kreiz argued that for the so-called millennial generation, the 12-to-24-year-olds so desired by the advertising industry, linear television is over. He quoted figures showing that the millennial demographic watched a third less linear television than 20-to-40-year-olds and less than half as much as 50-plus-year-old viewers.

"So it's not that they watch more linear TV as they grow older but that they watch less as they grow younger," Kreiz quipped. "This is a demographic that is really valuable and really hard to reach. They have a lot of spending power, but you can't find them."

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Kreiz argued that Maker, which boasts 550 million users, nearly two-thirds of which are millennials, is ideally positioned to find and monetize this generation through its user-generated, short-form video content. He cited a recent announcement by marketing agency group OMD that it was advising its clients to move between 10 percent and 25 percent of their TV budgets to online video. "Change is coming. We are still at an early stage, but it is coming," he said.

Yet online video won't just be an extension of television by other means. According to Kreiz, short-form video is as different from long-form video "as movies are from TV." Despite the boom in serialized drama on display at MIPCOM, he argued that young viewers want more short-form video, and they want it even shorter.

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"Of the top 100 video properties in America, on all platforms, the average duration of the video is less than four minutes, and that's down from five minutes a year ago," Kreiz said.  "If you're including mobile use, that's even more the case. On Netflix, almost 90 percent of Netflix content consumed on mobile is shorter than 10 minutes. We know there is demand. We know there is a need for this."

Speaking to Disney's acquisition of Maker Studios, Kreiz said Disney knew they "had to do something to remain relevant in that space — the short-form medium — especially with millennials." He called Disney CEO Bob Iger "a visionary" for recognizing the opportunity "to extend their business into short form, and for us, the opportunity was to extend our business into traditional media and leverage the global resources of The Walt Disney Company."

Now Maker Studios is looking to extend its business, ironically, by embracing long form. At MIPCOM, the company is selling what Kreiz described as "branded blocks, bringing the best of the Maker network into a structured format of long-form shows that we're offering to pay TV and free-to-air broadcasters." The company also is selling a "Maker Box Set," consisting of thousands of the best videos from its content makers, to online video services.

Twitter: @sroxborough