Chris Anderson suggests that “within ten years most TV will no longer come in 30-minute chunks.”
In the IP-TV future, where video is pulled on demand from anywhere, I suspect we’ll be watching more and more shorter stuff. We’re already channel grazing, jumping from one sub-minute video sample to another, so we’re clearly comfortable with short stretches of video, even if that’s not the way it’s supposed to be watched. Why not acknowledge the reality and offer TV in naturally attention-deficit lengths for a generation that’s going to watch it that way regardless? Likewise, TV news shows are assembled by stringing together dozens of short items over the course of 30 minutes or an hour; wouldn’t it be even better to let viewers pick the ones they want to watch from a menu instead?
Rather than today’s peak at 30 minutes, I think we’ll see smaller peaks at 1, 2, 10 and 20 minutes (shown). Elsewhere, the time demand curve will smooth out a bit as more shows break the tyranny of the 30-minute multiple. Sports, in particular, could be sliced into dozens of new lengths: full games, highlights, key quarters/innings, last two-minutes, and so on. It’s already that way on the web; I suspect it won’t be long before TV goes the same way.