Yulia Kazakova 2018-10-17
Cultural Consumption in Russia: Long-Serials or Fast-Movies?

The evolving Internet has changed media consumption worldwide. In Russia media consumption is an urgent topic because of information asymmetry and a lack of transparency. Nevertheless, creators have ideas to share with people who are looking for stories. Do Russian have cultural consumption and what is the most delicious piece for the Russian-speaking audience?  



Cultural consumption was measured based on a dataset published by a Russian online cinema for a programming contest in March 2018.  Data on content, user location, duration, platform, country and city was extracted. The assessment of the inclusiveness, type of preferred content across Russian cities highlighted several patterns in content consumption in online cinema platform. 


Go Online to Socialize Offline


Online moviesare consumed via four platforms namely STB, Web, Web-Mobile and Mobile. Based on the results of descriptive analysis, traditionalmedia consumption via STB (54,5%) is followed by Web platform (28,7%) that gives grounds to assume that media content is used as ‘a background noise’ to give family members a reason to gather together. Rubinstein and Shaver (1982) found that 61% of a large sample of 18- to 25-year-olds responded television to be a common response to loneliness. Thus, the best scenario for people who feel lonely is to watch TV with their relatives or friends to socialize whereas watching movie via mobile makes a viewer concentrate on a small screen and doesn’t satisfy the needs. Mobile platform has the highest inclusiveness rate and is rated on the third place among all platforms (10,6%). This gives a reason to assume that content is not the main goal for users to watch online cinema.


Media content served and delivered


Content preferences are based on cultural level. Different reasons for watching content form users’ preference list. Reasons might vary from procrastination to education and socialization. Based on the historical data, serials were watched for a longer period of time. Qualitative research was applied to top-15 watched media content by duration. Stories about traditional values are among the top watched in Russia. 

In 2000 Russians expected media to inform (59%), to educate (20%) and to guide (14%) according to a poll conducted by WCIOM. Only 7% of Russian audience wanted media to bring entertainment content. In 2018 top-watched content on Russian television is entertaining. Thus, top 10 highest grossing movies based on their box office collection in 2017 in Russian cinemas neither educate, nor guide.

Kadetstvo had been watched for 49 hours by a user from Ulyanovsk. The average time of media content watched is 23 hours. It might be assumed that viewers from Russian cities watch movies either at home (50 % - STB) or during the working day (50% - Mobile).

Serials will gather more audience as people retire and they want to live the life of a character. They might imagine themselves being in real life situations and live the life of another person. 


Content drives digital transformation 


In Russia the culture of information consumption is not formed yet. Content with no licences is distributed via social networks and file-sharing hostings.

Low content consumption culture doesn’t let creative industries a chance to become independent. At the same time, creative industries don’t have high standards as the production and distribution model is extensive expecting a producer to work harder than the artist. These conclusions are supported with figures from the external database published by the Ministry of Culture on the amount of Gigabytes used. Thus, there is no correlation between the amount of gigabytes used and the number of media items consumed. Sverdlovsk follows Moscow and Saint-Petersburg in the amount of Gigabytes used but is not listed in Top-50 cities of media consumption via legal online cinema.

The culture of content consumption is based on many factors. The desire to support the creative industry should be supported by the understanding that there might not be any high-quality content if the market does not exist. 

In Russia creative industries lack laws on Intellectual Property (IP). Movie production has always cost an arm and a leg. Today it costs a soul. Creators are driven by ideas and are clamped within budget constraints. The audience is looking for a unique content on hostings and file-sharing websites. 

Media history guides readers through a path of information delivery from the first removable media namely paper in 100 BCE to the Internet that came to life in 1983. In 2019 content defines context whereas context forms content. Cultural consumption in Russia is based on users’ feed generated by algorithms. Are algorithms a new type of media backed with user generated content (UGC) and metadata is a content itself? 


Cultural production and consumption in Russia are now squeezed in one Movie court: government funded long-serials and idea driven fast-movies.