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AppRising delivers insight into new broadband applications, exploring their impact on networks and their implications for public policy.

AppRising is written by Geoff Daily, who covers broadband applications and the business of online video. Based in Washington, DC, Geoff regularly advises applications developers, network operators, community leaders, and public officials on how to maximize adoption and use of the Internet.

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December 5, 2007 12:13 PM

Tracking Online Video Adoption - Internet Audience On Par with TV?

comScore, a company that tracks information relevant to the growth and adoption of the Internet, has released its latest Video Metrix report, which provides insight into the demand for online video, in this case for the month of September 2007.

Not surprisingly, YouTube retained its position atop this throne.

What was somewhat surprising, though, was how much of a lead it actually has.

According to comScore's latest numbers, Google-owned sites delivered 2.6 billion videos, which represents 28% of the 9 billion videos delivered overall. Out of those 2.6 billion, YouTube accounted for 2.5 billion.

Who's in second place? Fox Interactive Media, clocking in at 387 million videos, or 4.2% of the market. They're followed by Yahoo! then Viacom then Time Warner, etc.

Think about this for a moment: YouTube is serving up almost ten videos for every one of the next closest competitor.

The numbers do narrow somewhat when you look at the number of users, of which YouTube had about 70 million, with Fox running a much closer second at just over 40 million. What this highlights is that people who go to YouTube tend to watch more videos than someone who goes to Fox.com, which isn't surprising given YouTube's focus on shorter clips and jumping between random videos.

But let's look at this from another angle: many of the other companies on this list are TV guys trying to make a go of it online. And despite the big push we've seen in '07 to bring more first-run TV content onto the Internet, YouTube still dominates in terms of viewership.

In fact, they're getting so many viewers it's arguable that perhaps they should start being compared to traditional TV audiences rather than those found online.

Think about this - 2.5 billion videos divided by 30 days in a month equals about 83 million videos a day. Let's compare that to Nielsen TV ratings.

The top recent show was an episode of Dancing with the Stars, which got a 16 rating. Each rating point equals 1.128 million homes. So a 16 rating is roughly 18 million households.

Let's take this a step further, Nielsen reports that this past Monday CBS won the ratings war with an average of 6.2 during primetime. This equates to about 7 million households. Now let's say primetime runs from 8pm-11pm, and that all the shows are half an hour long. That suggests that 42 million households tuned in to CBS on Monday night.

Now of course this is far from an apples-to-apples comparison. Nielsen ratings don't account for whether or not an average rating of 6.2 means 42 million households tuned in for the 6 different shows or if only 7 million households watched all 6 episodes, as opposed to online video where the number of unique visitors can be tracked much more accurately.

But it does give you a sense for the scope of YouTube's reach.

On the flip side, though, it also points to the nascence of every other site trying to establish an online audience for their video.

That being said, there are reasons for optimism, namely the finding that 75% of Internet users watched a video during the month of September. Sure most of them were going to the same site, likely to watch short goofy clips of dogs chasing cars, but at least people are increasingly understanding that the opportunity to watch video online exists.

Additionally, they're averaging 3 hours of online video watching per month. Of course this is but a drop in the bucket relative to the 3-hour-per-day average of TV viewing, but it does suggest that online video is becoming a more significant more regular component of consumers' viewing habits.

What'll be fun to watch over the next year is how TV sites are able to close the gap with YouTube and how the introduction of higher quality longer form content impacts the time people spend watching online.


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