What is the optimal video length?

There is a simple rule to follow when determining how long your video should be: as short as possible to get your message across.

But as useful a rule as that is, it is important to frame it in the context of optimum video length and how it affects an individual's engagement with a video.

Previously the assumption has been that engagement (the percentage of people still watching a video beyond a certain length of time) declines in a linear relationship with video length.

However, new research by Wistia based on more than half a million videos and 1.3 billion plays has cast new light on the impact of video length.

Two minutes is without doubt the optimum length, with videos on average retaining 70% of viewers until this point.


Interestingly, videos of 30, 60 or 90 seconds won’t hold viewers’ attention any more than a video of 120 seconds, so there’s no need to make it too short. Particularly as two minutes offers you time to get your message across properly.

But after two minutes, drop off occurs rather steeply. By three minutes another 6% of viewers have tuned out. By four, engagement is down to 60%.

Every second counts, so if your video is 2 minutes and 10 seconds, it’s worth cutting 10 seconds so that the maximum number of people reach your call-to-action (presumably the whole point of creating a video in the first place was for them to undertake an action).

The tail-off that starts at 2 minutes begins to level out at 6 minutes, but bear in mind that by this stage you will already have lost 50% of your viewers.

But whatever the length of your video, rest assured that it will engage your audience much better than more traditional ways of getting your message across.

After all, if you’d chosen text content instead only 20% of people will have read it from start to finish.

I hope the 1 in 5 of you who got to the end of this article enjoyed that fact.

Nathan Coyne
By Nathan Coyne