Kuaishou, Douyin apps experiment with longer-form videos

Two of China's most famous short video apps have recently been making steps to encourage users to increase the length of their moving image creations, in the hopes of expanding their appeal and competing with other online rivals.

Kuaishou and Douyin have both been instrumental in developing the short video format which has taken the Chinese internet by storm, and since expanded across the world through brands such as TikTok.

Kuaishou, which became popular for its eye-popping clips of stunts and pranks by uploaders in rural Chinese towns, originally chose a 57 second video limit after using AI to test user behavior. Kuaishou is backed by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings.

The Douyin platform is operated by Beijing-based Bytedance. It popularized the short video format overseas with its TikTok app, which is the international equivalent of Douyin. On both versions, most people lip sync, dance and jump to pop songs and music in 15-second shareable clips.

Notably, on the iOS app chart, TikTok was the most downloaded app store for five consecutive quarters.

Now Douyin and Kuaishou have started testing longer-form videos among selected users.

Starting in July, some users of Kuaishou have been able to upload videos that are as much as 10 minutes in length. The Chinese online news site 36kr reported that the added functionality will be available for everyone in future, but for now most people can only make videos of 11 or 57 seconds duration.

On Douyin, some verified users with large followings have been able to upload videos 15-minute long since June. The company introduced a new function in April 25 which allowed everyone to record 60-second videos.

Concurrently, Douyin has tried to get video bloggers to produce richer and longer content. The National Business Daily news portal reported that support and blue tick status would be given to Vlog creators who produce high quality, original videos over 30 seconds.

With strong competition in the Chinese short video market, platforms like these are finding they need to expand to longer form videos in the hope of igniting the next social media craze to go viral among the country's 829 million netizens.

One Douyin account with the name Xue_Zhang has 1.2 million fans. It was among those that benefited from the added 15-minute long video function. The user, who only wants to be known by his surname An, posted videos of his grandparents' daily life. A number of them have received upwards of 1 million likes.

"[This latest function] doesn’t really affect my usage but I might use it in the future … maybe I can make a documentary," An remarked.

The move to longer-form videos was welcomed by professionals, including short-form film director Zhao Haibo on Kuaishou, who has over 410,000 followers.

"It's hard to tell a story in about ten seconds," said Zhao, who is also president of the Yulin Micro Film Association in NW China's Shaanxi province.

Bytedance said earlier this month that its Douyin platform had more than 320m daily active users (DAUs) while Kuaishou's vice-president Wang Qiang said in May its DAUs had reached over 200m.

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