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Twitter is making a huge video push — and tweaking Vine’s six-second limit in the process

Vine is expanding its video limit to 140 seconds.

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Lele Pons, the most watched Viner of all time
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There are a lot of places you can go on your phone to watch videos — Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat are a few popular options. Twitter wants to join that group.

So Twitter is rolling out a few significant changes in the hope that users will watch (and create) more video content. Included in the update is a new area of the app dedicated to video and recommended video, plus a few notable changes to Vine, the once-popular video app that has felt forgotten of late. (Apparently it’s not!)

Soon, if you come across a video in your Twitter timeline, you’ll be able to click that video to launch what Twitter is calling Watch Mode, a video-only section of the app where Twitter will suggest other videos you may want to watch.

Facebook did something similar last summer, and said it would show ads in that stream and share the revenue from those ads with video creators, a la YouTube. Twitter says it will not show ads in Watch Mode at launch, but I’m guessing it will at some point down the line.

Twitter is also tweaking Vine’s most distinct characteristic: That all videos on Vine are limited to six seconds. Vine’s videos will still be six seconds long, but you will soon be able to post additional videos — up to 140 seconds long — alongside your Vine.* Many creators use Vines to preview longer videos, directing users to Instagram or YouTube to “watch the full video.” Now they can add the longer version directly to Vine.

Twitter is also changing its video limit to 140 seconds, up from the 30-second limit it has now.

And for the first time, Vine will pay its content creators. Or at least share revenue with them. Influential Vine creators can soon use Twitter’s Amplify video ad program to run pre-roll ads along with their Vine videos.

Under the current model, Vine/Twitter keeps 30 percent of that revenue, meaning content creators get the remaining 70 percent.

Twitter is also launching a new app called Engage specifically for video creators so they can track analytics for their videos and filter through their Twitter mentions.

So that’s a lot! But there’s a relatively easy explanation for all of this. People are creating more video than ever with their mobile devices, but Twitter is low on the list of places most people turn to share it. Vine is even lower still.

So the company is looking to entice video creators to post to Twitter instead of Facebook or Snapchat, or at least in addition to those other two. And it’s also hoping to lure back some of its well-known Vine creators, some of whom have millions of followers that have been all but abandoned for other networks like Snapchat or Instagram. Paying them is a big deal, and something Vine creators have wanted for some time. The question is whether or not Vine is too late.

The move is also symbolic of Twitter’s willingness to change elements of its product that have become part of its identity. Last month Twitter tweaked its iconic 140 character limit to get people tweeting more. Now it’s tweaking Vine’s six-second video restriction, too. Former Vine boss Jason Toff (who left in January for Google) told Recode last fall that Vine’s video limit was not “overly sacred.” But saying that and actually changing it are two separate things.

Then again, desperate times call for desperate measures, and Twitter needs to turn its product around. Betting big on video could help.

The ability to post longer videos will start rolling out to users on Twitter Tuesday, and “a small group” of influencers on Vine. Regular Viners will presumably get it later on, but we’re not sure when. The dedicated video feed is coming “soon” and the Engage app should be available on iOS beginning Tuesday.

* This story was updated to clarify that Vine videos are still six seconds, but that other, longer videos are coming to the app.

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