3 Surprising Video Trends that Should Inform Your L&D Strategy

By Scott Pinzon Digital Media Producer, Dell EMC Education Services October 9, 2018

Imagine a cattle stampede that continues for five years, and you’ve also pictured how the populace has stampeded from text to video. According to YouTube’s Press page, people watched a lot of YouTube video in 2013. In 2014, they watched three times as much as they did in 2013. In 2015, the numbers tripled again.

The masses aren’t merely watching video. They’re turning to online video as their preferred method of learning, whether the topic is how to do math or how to use a chainsaw. This mass transition to educational videos has dragged corporate Learning and Development departments into the video-production business – and if you’re a corporate L&D pro with no background in video, you’re having to glean knowledge along the way.

Formulating Courseware Strategy on Common Knowledge Is a No-go

What’s the approach to formulating a strategy for video-based courseware effectively?

You hear tidbits on trends and “common knowledge” in the industry such as: “A training video can be only five minutes long,” or “Millennials watch training videos on smartphones, but everyone else watches on PC.”

Is such “common knowledge” really… knowledge? Where’s the data that supports these “facts”?

Folklore deserves healthy skepticism.

To plan and gauge our courseware effectively and optimize our customer’s learning experiences, we need firsthand, well-sourced data about how people actually interact with video.

I get such data from Ooyala, a resource that offers broadcasters and premium content providers (such as Vudu, Sky Sports UK, Star India) management tools that help them monetize video content. Ooyala tracks and analyzes the viewing behavior of more than 120,000 anonymized viewers in more than 100 countries, then publishes their findings quarterly. You can download Ooyala’s Global Video Index free and study it yourself.

Defying conventional wisdom, three surprising findings from Ooyala’s most recent report could help you optimize your Learning & Development efforts.

Video Trend #1: Longform Is In on Smartphone, Tablets and PCs

For three of the last five quarters, the majority of video watched online was longform – industry-speak for running times over 20 minutes.

  • Videos running 2-5 minutes account for only 38% of the time spent watching video on smartphones.
  • On tablets, longform accounts for 75% of all video time watched.
  • On PCs, viewers watch longform content to completion a whopping 71% of the time.
  • Viewers watch longform to completion on tablets 61.3% of the time.
  • Viewers watch longform to completion on phones 56.6% of the time.

The takeaway: While many factors determine how long your viewer sticks with you (to name a few: relevance, production quality, their reason for watching), the latest research directly contradicts the rote “knowledge” that viewers leave after a few minutes. Although the video offerings Ooyala measures mostly consist of entertainment, their data reveals that the majority of viewers will complete a 22-minute video if it’s interesting, regardless of subject material.

Questions to consider: How might using a longer format affect the way you subdivide your content? Can your content hold interest that long? Can you identify topics where learning and retention would benefit from not being shoe-horned into five minutes?

Video Trend #2: Mobile Video Is Mainstream Now

In Q1 of 2018, the number of videos viewed on mobile devices was up all over the world. For example, of all video plays in Asia-Pac, 60.7% occurred on mobile devices. EMEA and Latin America hit all-time highs for mobile’s share of video plays.

Mobile video views also rose to being the majority of views in every age demographic, everywhere.

The takeaway: Common knowledge held that mobile viewership was a niche for the young or for early adopters. Now, the majority of all video views occur on a tablet or phone. If you’re still developing courseware primarily for desktop PCs, you’re offering yesterday’s modality to an audience that’s rapidly leaving it. Consider whether your courseware developers should start thinking, “Mobile first.”

Video Trend #3: Streaming Is Overtaking Conventional TV

Sixty percent of all households that have a broadband Internet connection have at least one Streaming Video On Demand (SVOD) service (think Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now). The most rapidly growing segment is “households with four or more services.”

Content creators are scaling up massively to meet the anticipated need for content on demand. Top content providers processed three times as much content in Q1 2018 as they did in Q1 2017. This trend won’t abate as heavyweights such as Apple and Disney race smaller providers to launch new streaming services in 2019.

The takeaway: Consumer culture drives relentlessly toward “get what you want, when you want it.” In that context, how happy are your customers to wait weeks for your five-day training class to roll around again? Businesses that offer customers video training on demand will probably enjoy a growing advantage over competitors offering conventional courseware.

At Dell EMC Education Services, we are working tirelessly to develop an on-demand video learning platform so customers can choose traditional classes, instant video support, or a combination.  We’ve also begun adding interactivity so that viewers can click on a video table of contents, or click within a video to branch to a more in-depth related video. This is the near-term future of learning.


In times when what “everyone knows” about learning videos might be unfounded, finding a reliable source of data can improve your predictions and planning. Ooyala is not the only source, but it’s free, well-derived, and gives me a refreshing reality check against what I thought I knew. Check out the report for yourself. When it comes to customer behavior, timely trend-spotting can determine whether your training content lands with a thud or a whoop – and whether your fiscal year ends with an oops or a yay!

Please feel free to comment or share your insights with me below.

About Scott Pinzon

Digital Media Producer, Dell EMC Education Services

Scott has enjoyed varied roles during his three decades in high tech, starting as a technical writer for the first Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in the late 1980s, through a career as a security analyst and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), to promoting the expansion of new generic Top Level Domains as Director of Marketing for ICANN, the non-profit that coordinates the global DNS.

Scott joined EMC in 2013 as an instructional designer, and is currently a Dell EMC Education Services producer running Dell’s video studio in Seattle, Washington (affectionately nicknamed “the Panic Room”). Using his veteran background in technical marketing and adult learning, Scott has written, produced, or directed nearly 400 marketing and training videos.

Scott’s career has a clear through-line: his firm belief that the greatest gift you can give someone is to help them know or do what they couldn’t before. With creativity and a wide practical streak, across many kinds of media, Scott’s goal is to empower audiences.

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6 thoughts on “3 Surprising Video Trends that Should Inform Your L&D Strategy

  1. Great to hear that Longform is in since I can be “Longwinded” sometimes 🙂 Seriously though, the 5 min mark has been a good guide but bad barrier to creating video when forced as a default. Thanks for the stats that clearly point to a lot of wiggle-room based on the audience and the creativity of your content.

    • Thanks Rene. When I read those measurements of 20+ – minute video, I was surprised. But then I realized, folks have been sitting on couches with their tablets for years now and plowing through edutainment such as Mythbusters, NatGeo, Shark Week, and so on. Wouldn’t it be great to make a half-hour training video with the production quality of those shows?

  2. Thanks for all the stats and references. Analytical types like myself love the stuff. I was surprised by the longform percentages. I like how you added the fact that Ooyala measures mostly consist of entertainment, so we should take the number with a grain of salt. In any case, teaching something technical is tough to do in just five minutes or less, unless that is the time left on the ticking time bomb you are trying to diffuse. 🙂