Are American Viewers Prepared for Minute-Long Soap Operas?

When Albee Zhang was approached to produce short-form features for mobile phones, she initially declined. But as the offers kept coming, the 12-year producer realized the potential for profitable new storytelling and agreed. She has since produced two features and is in the process of creating four more for various female-oriented apps after last summer.

ReelShort, an app that showcases melodramatic content in one-minute, vertically shot episodes, is a market leader in this genre. Targeting the United States audience, ReelShort has already achieved significant success, making $22 million in revenue and driving millions of downloads within the country.

The short-form format, prevalent in the Asia-Pacific region, gained traction during the pandemic, following which ReelShort has aimed to captivate viewers quickly through captivating plot points in its episodes. While the initial episodes are free, viewers have to either pay or watch ads to unlock subsequent ones, resulting in a unique business model that has excelled in the United States.

Building on the failed attempts of platforms like Quibi, ReelShort is focused on appealing to the 75% female audience, as opposed to more high-profile productions.

Possessing various popular features and maintaining consistent revenue earned, ReelShort is proving itself in the North American market, with potential for further scale. Other similar apps are also looking to cash in on this success and might be aiming at larger production scales, possibly attracting American companies towards the short-form storytelling model.

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