Online Video Watching Reaches Record Levels

By  |  Wednesday, February 4, 2009 at 4:02 pm

A comScore Video Metrix report, released today, confirms what we all knew already: People are watching more and more online video. In fact, U.S. Internet users viewed 14.3 billion videos in December alone.

Google’s Web properties (including YouTube) received the greatest number of hits, accounting for 41% of the online video market. Fox Interactive was the (distant) runner up with a 3.1% share of the market, trailed by Yahoo, Viacom Digital, and Hulu. The average U.S. Internet user watched an average of 96 videos in December, and 78.5% of U.S. Internet users watch online video, according to the comScore report.

Viewers are trending toward short sessions, indicating that they’re not treating the Web like their TV. The average duration videos were watched for was just 3.2 minutes. Hulu users were an exception, spending 10.1 minutes per session.

Furthermore, the most popular YouTube videos of all time are music videos, comedy, and viral shorts. Far fewer people are catching entire television episodes and movies on the Web; although, video downloads and purchases were not tabulated in the report.

NBC hit pay dirt when it placed clips of SNL’s Tina Fey doubling as Sarah Palin online during the presidential election, and plenty of entire TV shows are online, complete with advertising.¬† So there is a financial incentive for old line media to embrace the Web. But both TV companies and TV viewers still seem to be getting their heads around Net video.

When I watched episodes of Star Trek on CBS’s classic television Web site last year, I was bombarded with surveys about the advertisements that I saw. That was very blatant market research. It will be interesting to see how the studios adapt to the Web, and if they can figure out how to turn all those online viewing sessions into the money they’ll need to pay for more content.

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