Lad Bible prepares shift to longer-form content for its Apple TV app

In attempt to shed its blokes-and-beer image, U.K. media company Lad Bible is showing its more mature side by moving toward longer-form video content — precisely as other publishers are trying to nail shorter, more mobile-friendly video. The publisher has high hopes for Apple TV in particular: After launching the app less than a week ago, its downloads are reportedly reaching the 3,500 mark.

Currently, the content sitting on the platform comes from the other half-dozen social channels run by Lad Bible. Videos like “Who knows the Drake Hotline Bling Dance,” and “Chilli Challenge” are both roughly two and a half minutes long and sit on its own site and Facebook.

According to the company, which has grown from 25 to 70 people in a year, it delivers around 750 million video views a month across these social platforms; on Facebook, it averages 3 million views per video. The next few months will be a testing phase for the brand and what its audiences want from the bigger screen.

Mimi Turner, marketing director for Lad Bible, explained that longer videos between 15 and 30 minutes created especially for the platform will land in the coming months as the company builds out its strategy.

“We talk a lot about channels and technology,” she said, “but different platforms have different emotions. We’re thinking about what’s the mood that someone is in to go into this channel.”

These figures come just weeks after Lad Bible announced plans to hire outgoing Vice editor Ian Moore. He told Digiday he will be drawing on his experience at Vice to cover more investigative features, taken from stories suggested by the community.

Youth-focused media company Vice has also been moving aggressively into the TV market to reach younger audiences, planning to launch a dozen channels in Europe in the next year, movement that Vice chief Shane Smith is calling “fast and furious.”

Still, it may take some time before its longer-form content rehabilitates the less mature aspects of the Lad Bible’s bawdy brand — especially when it comes to attracting advertisers, said Will Frappell, head of investment at digital agency Essence. “More premium environments such as Vice can reach the same audience without the quality concerns,” he added. “There’s an opportunity there for Lad Bible, but it’s so far unproven.”

But David Carr, strategy director at digital agency DigitasLBi, thinks Lad Bible’s opportunity lies not in imitating apps like Vice, HBO or Netflix — but rather in challenging them. Carr sees opportunities for Lad Bible to add interactive elements, experiment with Siri or offer more personalized content based on whose devices are in the room, to really stand out from the 1,000 other apps and media options on Apple TV.

“Instead of trying to ape the aesthetics of what went before,” he said, “maybe we should look at a new way.”

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