Advice about show length/episodes

(Adrian Smith) #1

Hello. I’m looking for some advice. I’m working on a direct to camera solo storytelling piece. In addition to the actor telling the story to camera there are beautiful and witty illustrations. Think Alan Bennet’s Talking Heads series with pictures.

The whole show runs to approximately 90 minutes. The initial audience will be online via a YouTube channel and accompanying website.

Is breaking it down into 15-minute segments a good way to go for a YouTube audience? The story is quite episodic and adapting it into 15-minute segments wouldn’t be difficult.

The age range of the story is mid-teen thru adult.

If anyone has experience of such things I’d appreciate any advice.

Many thanks

Adrian S

How long should a Web series Ep be?
Teach Me Tuesday: unpopular opinions
(Bri Castellini) #2

Hey Adrian! Sounds like a cool project! I’m gonna tag a few community members who might have thoughts:

@movieguyjon @mintypineapple @mdec24 @kmd @spatulawilwheat @spectatorspork @HackettKate @hailstorm @RobbieRuviews

And, of course, anyone else :slight_smile:

(Bri Castellini) #3

That’s a pretty wide age range, but I’d say in general, if the content needs to be seen as a unit and can’t really work as standalone videos, you can trend towards longer episodes and just release them all at once so interested audiences can just binge. No sense in breaking it up into lots of episodes if it all needs to link together to be enjoyed anyways.

If the individual segments don’t need to be seen together, you might want to try shorter episodes, because people are more likely to commit to a standalone thing they stumble on if it’s quick. If they like it, they’ll keep watching and find the rest of the episodes. With shorter episodes you’ll be able to promote things individually, and a single episode taking off in popularity will raise the views and audience for the rest. For instance, my recent series has episodes all under 3 minutes long, and one in particular has been more popular than the others, which has then led to all the episodes getting more views as people come for the popular one (episode 8, in this case) and then check out what else we have to offer.

(Jonathan Hardesty) #4

These days the sweet spot in Youtube videos seems to be between 3-10 minutes or so, depending on the type and quality of the content. If you’re going for a much more mellow pace, like the Talking Head series, shorter episodes will be your best friend - 2-3 minutes max. If you’re going for a more YT-style, modernized take and quicker cuts, you can probably hit that 15 minutes with some strong editing and performances.

One thing you could try is to have the first three episodes be varying lengths and gauge the reactions to each as well as how responsive audiences are. It could very well be that your intended audience is much more patient than the YT-at-large audience and they might respond brilliantly to 15-minute episodes.

Also keep in mind that pretty much all web content is watched on the phone or desktop (the TV and console versions of the apps are STILL garbage) so this might be watched during a lunch break or downtime in between things.

(Bri Castellini) #5

Yes, this!! I think my show has benefitted from my telling people “you can binge the whole thing in under half an hour!”

(Robbie Ru) #6

I absolutely agree, and have nothing else to add except this:

As a watcher, I would much rather watch 8 2-minute videos than 1 16 minute long video.

This sounds cool. I hope you’ll link it once you release it!

(Meaghan Cassidy) #7

I feel like I might be in the minority here but I’m a big fan of 10-20 minute episodes. But it depends on the tone of it. As I think I’ve mentioned before here comedy or dramas which are character based hit a sweet spot in the under 10m range for me. Dramas and stuff with action tend to work better as longer episodes.

You see it on TV, too. Comedy/light dramas and usually go for the half hour timeslots and bigger action packed shows/the like go for the hour slots typically. There’s definitely a method behind it.

(Hailey Buck) #8

I personally like videos around 5ish minutes. On the other hand I have heard Youtube’s algorithm is really into promoting videos around 10 mins right now. I think I would just divide the story at rational breaking points and try to even out from there. Good luck!

(Jonathan Hardesty) #9

When a few friends and I started an animation channel on YouTube years ago, it was all about getting people close to 100% watch on videos, which meant the shorter the better. It was very much how much binging could we get people to do and how much smaller, bite-sized content we could crank out. And like you said, now YT is more interested in those longer videos. My, how far things have come. :stuck_out_tongue:

(Carlo Delmar) #11

Some web series creators make two versions of their web series. A good example is the web series, “The Invaders — Angie’s Logs.”

Here is the regular episodic version made for YouTube:

Here is the short film version, comprised of selected scenes from multiple episodes, for submission to film festivals: