Is Online Video Dying? Comscore's Video Metrix Says Fizzle in Feb

Is Online Video Dying? Comscores Video Metrix Says Fizzle in Feb

This doesn't make much sense to me, but it seems like less people in the US (170M vs. 171M) started more video sessions (5B vs. 4.8B) in February than in January, and then watched for less time (816 vs 870 minutes) each. So it seems like viewership is in decline from the all-time high of 181M and the more stable 175-178M that it has been and it's the death of online video! Ha! Alright, I just thought someone might say that so I decided I would jokingly get it out of the way. Considering all that has happened this month as opposed to February (a short month), I predict (quote me on this) a rise in online viewing for March 2011. Kung Pao! Take that to the bank...

So back to comScore. Just under 170 million Americans watched an average 816.4 minutes or 13.6 hours of video in February. Well, then again, it was a short month of only 28 days instead of the 31 of January.

Movers and such - Google the same top spot, Microsoft jumps to second over Yahoo! (3rd), Facebook (see note) and VEVO (6M viewers lost).  Hulu dropped a spot, NBC Universal is gone altogether as FOX Interactive topped them both.

If you look at actual viewer numbers:

  • Microsoft UP 10M
  • Facebook UP 4M (because of a new server included)
  • Hulu UP 2.3M (corrected)
  • Yahoo! UP 2M (counter-intuitive since they nixed their video stuff, right?)
  • VEVO DOWN 6M
  • AOL Down 6M
  • Google DOWN 3M
  • Viacom DOWN 3M
  • Turner DOWN 0.5M

Cool no? It's quick, easy and color-coded. Here's comScore's version of that.

Top U.S. Online Video Properties by Video Content ViewsRanked by Unique Video Viewers - February 2011Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
PropertyTotal Unique Viewers (000)Viewing Sessions (000)Minutes per Viewer
Total Internet : Total Audience169,6465,038,485816.4
Google Sites141,0651,829,662261.6
Microsoft Sites48,812297,73146.5
Yahoo! Sites46,714200,08836.3
Facebook.com*46,661170,31918.5
VEVO45,917222,11086.7
Viacom Digital45,214229,85674.2
AOL, Inc.38,773137,36223.1
Turner Digital27,44787,65225.3
Hulu27,257143,461224.3
NBC Universal24,18553,13620.4

*Facebook.com experienced a positive step-change in its data this month due to the inclusion of an additional video serving location that was not previously credited to Facebook.

Just a quick note to comScore: I really rather prefer the total video numbers versus that cryptic viewing sessions. Email a justification on that please.

Top Video Ad Properties

Ads were also down overall by 500M, and 60M minutes. They also reached 3% less of the US population in February.

Cha-ching! Somehow Hulu offered up more video ads with less users. Well, that's explained away by their horrific 48.1 ads per viewers (yes, I said horrific!) which is 3.5 ads more than last month and 18 more ads per viewer than the average. BOO HooLu! The really scary thing is that they showed that many ads and only reached 7.8% of the US population. That means, to me, those ads are seen repeatedly, far beyond any effective number I imagine.

Quick ReelMatch time:

  • US Population (est) at time of writing: 311,001,147
  • 7.8% = 24,258,089 people (saw 29.5% of online video ads)
  • Ad minutes per person: 18.7 (8.3% of viewing time)
  • Roughly 23.3 seconds per ad (so almost a perfect split of 15 and 30-second spots?)

SpotX popped a cap in the arses of MS and BR as it took 4th spot gaining some 24M ads at the expense of their reach which fell 0.5%... why, I Otto talk to them about that (it's a joke). They increased both minutes (217M vs 205M) and Ads per viewer (8.7 vs 9.7) from last month.

Now I know I skipped a couple so let's cruise back up the chart and give some props to Tremor in the second spot with 548M ads (up 45M), 336M minutes (up 36 min) and 9.0 apv (up 0.3) and ADAP.tv who, while losing some 36M ads maintained third spot. In fact they lost across the board and at that rate could cede that spot to SpotX come next month.

On the down low, Viacom saw a massive growth in ads month-to-month with 285M vs 194M, did they have some interesting shows this past month? Brightroll, who it says reported a tagging error, is in sixth this month. That tagging error looks to possibly have cost them 75M video ad counts (not necessarily ads, don't email me about that BR, I got it, I got it!).

Rounding out the rest, CBS up 16M ads, Microsoft down 206M (tagging error perhaps?), ABC up 17M and Undertone slips into tenth while Crosspoint (Auditude powered video ad network) disappeared.

Top U.S. Online Video Properties by Video Ads* Viewed - Ranked by Video Ads Viewed - February 2011
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
PropertyVideo Ads (000)Total Ad Minutes (MM)Frequency (Ads per Viewer)% Reach Total U.S. Population
Total Internet : Total Audience3,829,8691,66130.242.0%
Hulu1,131,04745448.17.8%
Tremor Media Video Network**548,3233369.020.1%
ADAP.TV**395,8642368.216.1%
SpotXchange Video Ad Network**342,8782179.711.7%
Viacom Digital284,76713111.78.0%
BrightRoll Video Network** †273,1901575.117.8%
CBS Interactive227,8087410.17.4%
Microsoft Sites208,799929.27.5%
ABC Television171,3597120.92.7%
Undertone**154,191888.16.3%

*Video ads include streaming-video advertising only and do not include other types of video monetization, such as overlays, branded players, matching banner ads, homepage ads, etc.
**Indicates video ad network
†BrightRoll Video Network reported an internal tagging error that led to a potential
undercounting of their videos.

Other notable findings from February 2011 include:

  • The top video ad networks in terms of their potential reach of the total U.S. population were: Tremor Media at 46.3 percent, BrightRoll Video Network at 37.3 percent and Break Media at 36.8 percent. Not as important to me as actual reach
  • 82.5 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video. Down 2.5%
  • The duration of the average online content video was 5.1 minutes, while the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes. Same old same old.
  • Video ads accounted for 12.4 percent of all videos viewed and 1.2 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.
Top U.S. Online Video Properties by Video Ads* Viewed
Ranked by Video Ads Viewed - February 2011 Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
PropertyVideo Ads (000)Total Ad Minutes (MM)Frequency (Ads per Viewer)% Reach Total U.S. Population
Total Internet : Total Audience3,829,8691,66130.242.0%
Hulu1,131,04745448.17.8%
Tremor Media Video Network**548,3233369.020.1%
ADAP.TV**395,8642368.216.1%
SpotXchange Video Ad Network**342,8782179.711.7%
Viacom Digital284,76713111.78.0%
BrightRoll Video Network** †273,1901575.117.8%
CBS Interactive227,8087410.17.4%
Microsoft Sites208,799929.27.5%
ABC Television171,3597120.92.7%
Undertone**154,191888.16.3%

*Video ads include streaming-video advertising only and do not include other types of video monetization, such as overlays, branded players, matching banner ads, homepage ads, etc.
**Indicates video ad network
†BrightRoll Video Network reported an internal tagging error that led to a potential undercounting of their videos.


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About the Author -
Christophor Rick is a freelance writer specializing in technology, new media, video games, IPTV, online video advertising and consumer electronics. His past work has included press releases, copy-writing, travel writing and journalism. He also writes novel-length and short fiction as part of Three-Faced Media . View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • http://vitamincm.com/ VitaminCM

    Take that short month down by another day. Super Bowl Sunday was in February and I'm pretty sure that everyone in America that would be watching web video was in front of a TV set that day. On top of that, they were watching ......... One of the big three networks (Gasp!)
    So now, you're comparing 27 days to 30 or 31.
    Also, the North East had less blizzards forcing everyone to be trapped indoors for 54 hours at a clip.
    It's a blip, not a trend.

    • Christophor Rick

      I was in front of my computer screen watching the Super Bowl, that was clearly mentioned in some recent articles :) So not everyone, then again, I'm not physically in America presently.

      Also, you seem to have missed the part in the beginning of the article, or perhaps, didn't read it at all so I will quote:

      it’s the death of online video! Ha! Alright, I just thought someone might say that so I decided I would jokingly get it out of the way.

      See, it says right there, jokingly.

      Now, if you look at the numbers for the last several months, there has been a decline..that is then officially, a trend and not a blip.

      Feb: 170M - 816 Min. avg
      Jan: 171M - 870 Min. avg
      Dec: 172M - 873 Min. avg
      Nov: 172M - 885 Min avg
      Oct: 175M - 908 min avg

      You will notice a generally downward trend in both viewers and average time per. These are all numbers from my monthly comScore articles. I'm still not saying online video is dead, I think it is extremely alive and well, or I would be looking for new work in another industry. I don't recall any US blizzards in November, but I could be mistaken on that. But then again, the blizzards in Dec/Jan would have increased viewing by your logic...and they didn't.

      • http://vitamincm.com/ VitaminCM

        I think I was not clear in my tone. I actually totally agree with your premise. Sorry for my lack of precision.
        Despite the slight decline in recent months, I still believe it will increase over a larger sample of time.
        I actually think it's "real" success may produce statistical declines in some ways. As online videos move from the PC to the TV, the viewership will go up (groups of friends or families vs. just one person on a computer), but the stats will go down. Now 4 real views of a video will only register 1 hit/view on YouTube (The Media PC). I guess we'll need some new metric.

        • Christophor Rick

          I don't really think it's going to increase anymore in terms of users. 85% of US Internet users is pretty deep penetration. I think it will fluctuate in the 165-180M per month. Time viewed, well that will probably continue to grow as will penetration in other parts of the world. But 85%, that's 5% more than I would have expected :D

          We need a whole new set of metrics which I wrote about in a couple articles and still think the industry as a whole needs to agree on.

  • Damian Hoskin

    Smart phone use in The U.S. still is still growing. Christopher Rick, I agree that video viewer numbers will increase and it will be on the back of mobile phones.