Online Video Continues Ridiculous Trajectory onlinevideo 300x199 ComScore has released their online video numbers for September 2009, and the trend continues.  Online video views are again at an all time high.

More than 168 Million U.S. viewers watched online video during that month, accumulating nearly 26 Billion total views.  Holy cow.

As usual, ComScore gives us a breakdown of the most popular sources for online video, and there are virtually no surprises.  Google still has a stranglehold on the competition, with a dominating 40.2% market share.  Second place goes to Hulu, which makes you want to celebrate until you see their market share, which is a paltry 2.2%.  (Hulu, by the way, just recently added an awesome new "Episode Release Schedule”).

Watching Hulu try and catch YouTube is sort of like watching the Detroit Lions become a good football team.

But seriously, there's plenty to celebrate for Hulu. In addition to holding the second spot, their users are also pretty loyal.  The average Hulu viewer watched 15.1 videos in September, totaling 1.5 hours of viewing per person.  (Of course, that pales when compared to YouTube's staggering 82 videos viewed per person).

There some really interesting (and kind of mind-blowing) data on online video in general too.  For instance, did you know the average video watched is now 3.8 minutes in length?  I was shocked at that.  I know three minutes doesn't sound like much, especially when compared to the length of a TV show or movie.  But think about it in terms of the web.  Go open up your analytics program and tell me the average length of time spent on site is for your visitors.  If it's anywhere near 3.8 minutes, I'll buy you a coffee the next time we see each other.

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In terms of web visitors, 3.8 minutes is an eternity, and most webmasters would kill for an attention span like that.  If everything else we've said before today hasn't already convinced you to jump into online video, then zero in and focus on just this metric.  What would it be worth to you to hold your visitors' attention for four minutes?  Because I can't remember the last time I saw a simple text-based blog post average anything close to that.

Online Video Continues Ridiculous Trajectory clock 300x261 Among the rest of the findings: 84% of Americans online watched videos.  84%.  As I continue to try and convince all my clients to jump fully into online video, I'm going to stop using that statistic about how many searches are performed on YouTube every month… and I'm going to start using this stat.  84% of people online are watching online video.  Talk about a hungry audience.  They're watching an average of about 10 hours of video every month.

What else do you do for 10 hours a month?  Think about that.  I mow the yard, probably 1.5 hours a week during the summer.  That's still only 6 hours a month.  I spend about an hour a week at the grocery store… so that's 4.

10 hours a month is a heck of a lot of video watching.  Considering the average person sleeps about 8 hours a night, 10 hours a week is just about 10% of a person's waking life.

While trying to get your head around such impressive data, consider this:  What content are you creating to reach that audience?

  • JeffBach

    Hi Jeremy
    Good article. Glad to continue seeing trends that are going in the right direction for online video.

    But.....the devil is in the details. For me, even after considering those details, online video STILL emerges as something that needs to be in the mix. Somehow.

    Detail #1 - The first question is always going to be "unanswerable". Is the person viewing the video in "entertainment" mode or are they in "information searching" mode? I find this question to be huge. It is the difference between more of a passive entertainment mindset and more of an active problem-solving mindset.

    Consuming entertainment implies a need to gain mass audience and use more of a dumb advertising approach, much like the existing TV model. Problem solving implies showing a more motivated viewer a more targeted video that answers their problem and/or a targeted ad that matches their selected topic. Niche content fits the second more than the first.

    In the stats you quoted, I wonder:

    #2 - how much viewing is porn? Does the 3.8 minute number reflect that content being removed? Unless you are connected with that content, I would think that all of that time/content/volume needs to be subtracted out. Unless you have figured out a way to advertise against it and make it a family friendly piece of media. If not, even if we remove half of 3.8 and use 1.9 minutes, we still have a very good number for time spent in one spot.

    #3 - in the 3.8(1.9) minute stat, can anyone tell anything about the details of that visit? I think viewer attention span is not 3.8 minutes long, but I do not have any stats to back up my opinion. There are a myriad of details in there that would confirm the value of the 3.8 minutes, e.g.:
    - when the viewer quit watching but left the player going?
    - or if the player was going while other tasks were in process,
    - any demo knowledge of the viewer,
    - was there an in-video ad, a banner ad around the video, an overlay ad on the video?
    - the time of day that the view occurred could even be significant.

    If that 3.8 minutes is simply derived from total Youtube serving time divided by number of Youtube viewers, the industry is going to be in trouble. Picture another bubble bursting sooner or later, although some video serving players have already been extinguished.

    We have the history of the other media to look at for comparison. I wonder when in the lifecycle of the older media, did anyone actually start making any money on that particular media?

    Would love to see a statistic showing money made for each unit of video viewed.

    Interesting times.

  • nigelcornish

    Very useful stats; thanks for posting. Are there figures available for outside US; eg Europe or UK?

  • Jeremy Campbell

    What an incredible viewing stat, it makes you wonder when online video will reach over 90% of the American population. It seems like every month the numbers get more impressive, but it's just too bad that the advertising dollars aren't growing quite as fast.

  • preetam

    what's ridiculous about it?

    unprecedented, way! ;)

  • Jeremy Scott

    Oops. Yeah, my bad. Thanks for fixing it Mark.

    • Mark Robertson

      no fix needed - you had it right Jeremy..

  • baronmeister

    i'd compare hulu to the 49ers this year instead of the detroit lions. so close and yet, just not close enough...

  • Mark Robertson

    Sorry Jeremy... I only spent 2 minutes reading this. ;-)

  • Dina Meek

    Oh, hey Jeremy...double check that "google 40.2%" reference in this article. Did you mean YouTube?

    • Mark Robertson

      Dina - one in the same right ;-) 40.2 is correct for Google and likely, 99+% of that is YouTube so both answers are likely correct. Thanks for your comments.

  • Dina Meek

    Jeremy, in researching a piece for a client, I Googled "online video news" and found your great article. Thanks for sharing this info. I had bookmarked some other articles about CNN and Yahoo boosting their video content; yours rounds things out very nicely. I will link back to you!