True Crime and Mystery Content Kills in View Times

True crime content creator Kendall Rae peaks out the side of a blue arch doorframe. Image has duplications going backward getting smaller and further

After reviewing data from more than 70 billion Facebook video views across all content genres from 2021, a Jellysmack exclusive analysis reveals that when it comes to view-time metrics, true crime and mystery content kill it. 

First things first: This survey applies a more expansionist interpretation of the category of the true crime. That’s including topics such as unsolved mysteries, the paranormal, and dark psychology stories. 

The survey cross referenced data from two different sources, including Jellysmack’s proprietary, first-party data. The results found that the true crime and mystery genre significantly over-performed in several key metrics, including overall average view times, completion rates, and percent of viewers passing the one-minute mark (i.e., monetizable views).

Here’s all the evidence Jellysmack sleuths discovered over the course of this in-depth investigation.

Monetizable Views Percentage

Exhibit A: Viewers watching a true crime video on Facebook were nearly 14% more likely to watch past the one-minute mark relative to other content categories.

For context, compared to YouTube, those who are served content on Facebook are in a different headspace. Generally, YouTube audiences are prepared to consume longer-form content when they arrive on the platform. It’s why they go there in the first place.

On the other hand, Facebook users often come across videos interspersed with other types of content in their news feeds. They decide in the moment whether or not to engage with it. 

The net effect of this difference is that Facebook audiences are more likely to “bounce” if the content doesn’t captivate them within the first few seconds compared to YouTube audiences. 

Additionally, when it comes to Facebook, the one-minute view mark is an important milestone for content creators. It’s the point at which the first ad—or monetization opportunity—is allowed. That means that only the views that make it past this point generate any revenue. Thus, this metric is also representative of a given video’s monetizable views percentage. 

According to Jellysmack’s research, true crime had among the highest monetizable views percentages relative to other content categories. 

Persons of Interest

Even within the high-performing genre of true crime, a handful of individual creators are exceptional outliers in view-time metrics. 

Kendall Rae, known for her deep-dive research of true crime cases and dynamic approach to victim advocacy, is a notable outlier. According to our research, the proportion of Rae’s overall views that surpass the one-minute mark is nearly 20% higher than the baseline all-content average. 

Kendall Rae has been creating YouTube content since mid-2012. She found significant and regular scale when she began uploading mystery driven and true crime content more regularly in 2016. True crime and mystery driven content became her bread-and-butter category, earning her more than three million subscribers on YouTube.

After partnering with Jellysmack with the goal of finding new audiences beyond YouTube, Rae’s content quickly found a massive, highly engaged, and devoted following on Facebook. 

In the eighteen months since her Facebook page launch, Rae’s Facebook following has already doubled her YouTube following. Her most-viewed video on Facebook has nearly triple the view count compared to her most-viewed video on YouTube.

This above-average proportion of views logged by Rae’s new found Facebook audience are generating additional revenue from Kendall’s existing inventory.

Similarly, true crime and mystery content creator Mr. Ballen’s “strange, dark, and mysterious stories” are also an outlier by monetizable views percentage on Facebook. 

Facebook viewers of Mr. Ballen content pass the one-minute view mark 36% more often than the all-content average. Like Kendall Rae, Mr. Ballen’s Facebook audience has experienced parabolic growth since partnering with Jellysmack. His Facebook page has already amassed more than 1.1 million page followers since it was launched in July of 2021.

Completion Rates

Another view-time metric in which the true crime and mystery content genre excels is completion rates. 

Jellysmack analyzed the video completion rates of true crime creators with a minimum of one million views during an observed period. That was compared against the overall average completion rates across all content types. Completion rates reflect the percentage of total viewers who watch a given video all the way through to the end.

Overall, true crime content viewers are 55% more likely to watch a video to the end relative to the all-content average. This is especially impressive considering that true crime videos are, on average, more than twice as the all-content average. 

True crime creator Stephanie Harlowe overperforms in completion rates by nearly 200% relative to the baseline, all genre average. Harlowe is popular for her in-depth, investigative journalism style videos.  

Mr. Ballen makes his second appearance on the view-time metrics list of exceptional outliers by measure of completion rate as well. His audience is more than 270% more likely to finish his video compared to the all content average. 

A circular graph showing proportional view time metrics of true crime creators overs all content average view time metrics

Average View Times

Of all the metrics in which true crime content excelled, average view time is where it had a hot lead. 

Part of why the true crime and mystery genre lends itself well to high average view times is because knowing every detail and possible scenario of the story is a central feature of the content’s allure. That curiosity is well reflected in average view times.

Jellysmack’s owned-and-operated true crime show Killer Bites landed the top slot of highest overall view time across all surveyed channels. Danelle Hallan, whose content primarily focuses on active missing persons and unsolved cases, front runs by 59% in average watch time, even within the over-performing genre of true crime. Stephanie Harlow and Mr. Ballen also landed in the top ten spots for channels with the highest overall average view time. (Note: Statistics were only considered for channels with more than three million views over the observed period).

The cumulative effect of these above average view times really adds up. Though true crime content creators represent less than five percent of the overall views, they represent more than 11% of total view time for all content. In other words, true crime content views accounted for more than double the proportion of view time as they did views.

And believe it or not, they were not alone. Of the more than 600 creators reviewed as part of this analysis, true crime content creators landed nine out of the top ten highest average view times for creators with a minimum of one million views over the observed period. 

This is especially remarkable considering that true crime and mystery content creators represent just over six percent of all content creators.

9 rainbow detectives and one grey detective icon against a black background to represent nine out of ten top spots for true crime creators

True crime content generally requires extensive and thorough research to dig up all the relevant details of each case. That makes creating each video time-intensive. 

The most successful creators in this genre go into depth and detail for each case. Other contributing performance factors include the storytelling skills of the creator and originality of their content (that is, whether the stories they cover are well known and extensively covered by other media sources). 

These factors all add to the time it takes to produce a video in this genre. For that reason, regular true crime creators generally publish new content less frequently relative to creators in other content categories at an average of 1.3 times per week. 

Still, the exceptional view-time performance of the true crime and mystery genre reaffirms that well researched, original content pays off. High performance in view-time metrics generally translates to revenue. It’s better to have 100 views pass the one-minute mark and generate revenue than one thousand views that fall short. 

The Verdict

In recent years, the true crime and mystery content genre has gone through somewhat of a Renaissance on social media. Several true crime content creators have made high-profile names for themselves within the industry and experienced phenomenal growth. 

Interest in true crime content mirrors the audience’s undeniable fascination with the topic regardless of the media vehicle, whether that be conventional formats such as documentaries, to Investigation Discovery channel shows, to a prolific podcast scene. 

The rise and success of creators in this category further highlights that intriguing content can not only traverse media formats, but also cross social media platforms where massive pools of untapped armchair detectives eagerly await. 

Case closed.