“YouTube currently supports watching at 0.25x, 0.5x, 0.75x, Normal (the default), 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x, and 2x. As you can imagine, most people watch on the default speed, but we found that when people use this feature, the vast majority of the time they choose to watch a little bit faster – in fact, this feature was used to speed up content more than 85% of the time.”
YouTube says that 1.5x speed is the most commonly used alternative, followed by 2x as a close second and 1.25x at third.
“And for the perfectionists who like custom speeds, 1.1x was the most used speed. Just a little faster, but not too much.”
YouTube also notes that playback speeds get faster, in general, throughout the day.
“In the morning, starting at 6am, playback speeds weren’t used as often, but users started to dabble with faster speeds as their day progressed. There was a slight dip in usage around dinnertime, between 7pm and 8pm, before picking up again later in the evening. Looking at usage of 1.5x speed, users watching videos on 1.5x started spiking between 9pm and 1am in their respective time zones.”
That makes sense. In our always-on, always-connected environment, people are constantly consuming media content, with rarely a gap in time where there’s not some form of media feeding into your ears, eyes or both.
The constant flood of material has already led to an evolution in the way that we consume such, with people getting more used to being able to skip ahead, while video content is also getting shorter and short, in alignment with audience attention spans.
In this context, faster playback options also fit in, with people trying to watch and react to more and more things all of the time, and speeding up that process can facilitate even more cramming, and align with evolving trends.
It may seem a little strange to consider that so many people are watching video playback with chipmunk-esque voices, but basically, no one has time to wait anymore – because in most cases they don’t have to. Which is an important consideration for brands.
I mean, you can’t create content with playback speed variability in mind, as such, but there could be some creative ways to mess with playback speeds to better lean into this behavioral shift.
Maybe speed up sections in your own presentation, or slow down elements to catch listener/viewer attention. You could also consider creative formats that lean into variable speeds, like stop motion, which could change in-line with different speed selections.
There’s not a heap you can do, directly, which can better align with this, but it is worth considering how short people’s attention spans now are, and how they’ll look to skip ahead and skim and move through content that doesn’t grab them straight away.
In other words, you need to be more aware than ever of the dangers of boring content. What’s interesting to you may not be as engaging to your audience, and it may be worth running your content through with your kids or other youngsters to see if/when they get bored with your presentation.
Some of that, of course, will be related to the topic, but the better you can get at assessing where the lulls are in your campaigns, the more you can lean into these behavioral shifts.
It’s an interesting point of note either way. You can read YouTube’s full playback speed overview here.