From catchy lip-syncing clips to foot-tapping dance shorts, the craze over those fleeting, TikTok-style 60-second videos shows no sign of abating. Much to the relief of an attention-deficit audience, after the ban on TikTok, other platforms scrambled to fill the void. According to a report, the Indian short-form video market now stands to reach up to $8-12 billion by 2030.
“A short clip is way more addictive because it gives instant gratification to a teenager,” says US-based Indian-origin student Saina Sodhi, who came up with her own video-sharing app, TheekThaak, after TikTok was banned in India in 2020. She knowingly points out, “Such short clips milk our short attention span. But these can also be a very powerful educational tool. I have come across people who have learnt far more things from such videos than they have through watching documentaries.”
Nikhil Nair (24), a Panchkula-based content creator, says, “I mostly create short, fun and relatable videos. As an actor, I just observe life and incorporate that in my videos.” He admits that reels have helped him reach a bigger audience. “My first reel that went viral has been recreated over three lakh times. Even celebrities like Tiger Shroff and Karishma Tanna recreated it using the audio (of my reel).”
“Everything has become fast-paced, so why not entertainment?” quips Nair, when asked about the growing popularity of short-form videos.
Digital content creator and actor Kishen Das (25), who has been creating content for around seven years now, shares, “It all started with vines. But I later moved to YouTube.”
Notably, if a trend report by Good Creator Co. is anything to go by, the average number of new content creators has more than doubled since the global deployment of YouTube Shorts in 2021 and the 2020 launch of Shorts in India. Videos that are 15 seconds or longer garner the most views.
Das, who makes short sketches to tickle the funny bone on his YouTube channel (@kishendasyoutube), shares, “I had recently made a video about Koffee with Karan, which racked up over three million views and earned a response from Johar himself.”
Anisha Dixit (31), who has been creating content for around a decade, recalls, “I started making reels the moment those were introduced in India in 2020. I was also among the first creators to get access to the Shorts feature.” Dixit, who has a YouTube channel (@rickshawali) which boasts of 3.05 million subscribers, says, “I make funny videos that people can relate to. My series ‘Normal vs Psycopath’ has gained a lot of traction.” In the beginning, she used to make seven or 10-minute videos every week. “But the attention span of viewers has shrunk over the years.”
Mohak Narang (22), who has 4.07 million subscribers on his YouTube channel (@MohakNarang), echoes that sentiment: “People do not have the luxury of time to consume long-form content. As soon as reels were launched, I saw it as an opportunity to boost my following.” He says his average viewer falls in the 13-25 year age group. He adds, “Earlier, I used to make couple content, but I shifted gears, and started making content on fashion, fitness and lifestyle. I believe we are in a new era of content creation.” He, however, rues that it takes just as much effort to make a 10-minute video as it does to make a short clip. “The YouTube revenue policy for Shorts creators is not fair,” he says.
Agam Verma, a post-graduate student of philosophy at Panjab University, says he watches reels made by fashion or wardrobe stylists to keep abreast of latest trends in India and overseas.
Medhna Chauhan, a Chandigarh-based student, enjoys watching clips of dogs and cats. “I spend half an hour watching such videos daily.”
“As a student, I have to devote time to my studies, so I cannot create content every day,” says Shreya Sahani, a final-year MSc (Biotechnology) student at a private university in Mohali, who has been creating content for young adults. She says the youth’s affinity for social media has contributed to the popularity of short-form videos.
Dr Priti Arun, head of the Department of Psychiatry at GMCH-32, says, “Youngsters do not have a sufficient attention span. And since the pandemic, people have taken to the digital mode. Since these YouTube Shorts are not longer than a minute, youngsters easily get hooked on to them. When a video is so captivating and is shorter than a minute, you tend to watch the whole thing, and do not feel guilty about watching it.”
Dr Simmi Waraich, consultant psychiatrist, Fortis, warns, “Many people often spend far more time than intended scrolling through YouTube Shorts and Instagram reels. You know you have a problem when the time you spend on these things eats into the time meant for other activities.”
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