Viewfinder: How Committed is Your Audience?
How Committed is your Audience?

Although most of us create videos, we face only a few options to deliver our videos to our audience. We usually distribute using VHS tapes or DVDs. Some of you are streaming video and the bold few are testing vidcasting.

Very few of you have your production projected in a theater and the most ambitious hope to transmit their video via broadcast, cable or satellite TV. Each of these delivery methods has unique traits as it relates to the attitude and behavior of the audience that will view the completed production.

The most captive audience is the theater. The seats are comfortable, the snack bar offers goodies to munch on, and the viewer usually stays for a few hours.

The most common place to view a VHS tape is in the convenience of the viewer's home and the viewer makes an ever so slight commitment to watch the entire program. The physical act of handling the VHS cassette begins when we purchase or select them from a rental company or catalog, picked them up from the mailbox or at a storefront location, or received them by hand delivery.

All of these factors lead to a commitment to watch the video, however the likelihood to hit the stop button and begin channel surfing is much closer compared to the person in a theater. It is pretty important to hook the audience.

The commitment level of DVD viewers is similar to VHS, unless they are viewing the DVD on a computer, where there may be some temptation to surf the Internet.

Vidcast viewers have the least commitment, especially if the viewer didn't pay for the video. As some of you know, vidcasts are full screen, broadcast quality videos that are automatically delivered to the computer, so there is no physical handling of the media. (Look to page 12 for photos taken from our first vidcast.)

Broadcast, cable or satellite TV are the highest level for most video producers to achieve, and millions of people watch videos through these delivery methods. The competition is fierce and the challenges of channel surfing intense. The commitment of the viewer is very low. Most viewers perceive these TV programs as "free" even if there is a subscription fee. Within a nanosecond, dozens of channels are available through the touch of a thumb on a remote control.

While all videos may benefit from specific strategies to maintain audience attention, we can learn the most from broadcast, cable or satellite TV. It is essential to hook viewers within the first minute and tease them with something that you will show them later.

If you really wish your audience to watch your video to the end, you need to seriously consider your distribution tactics accordingly.

Matthew York is Videomaker’s Publisher/Editor

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