• comScore Data Shows 2009 Was a Blistering Year for Online Video (Slides Available)

    Last Friday, comScore released its Dec. '09 data for online video usage. I've been tracking comScore's data for the last 3 years and Dec put an exclamation mark on what many of us already knew: 2009 was a blistering year of growth in online video consumption. Below are graphs of the most important data (Click here if you'd like a complimentary PDF download of all of the slides.)

    The first graph shows total online video views more than doubled from 14.8 billion in Jan '09 to 33.2 billion in Dec '09. The historical growth is even more impressive. Just two years ago, in Dec '07, comScore reported 10 billion video views.

     

    Online video usage is now nearly ubiquitous in the U.S. According to comScore, in Dec '09, 86.5% of all U.S. Internet users watched online video, up nearly 10 percentage points from the 76.8% in Jan '09. That translates to 178 million people watching video in Dec '09, up from 147 million in Jan '09. Back in Jan '07, there were 123 million viewers.

     

    Those users are watching a whole lot more videos as well. For Dec '09, comScore reported that 187 videos were watched per average viewer, up 85% from 101 in Jan '09, and more than triple the 59 watched in Jan '07.

     

    As well, those viewers spent a lot more time watching online video. In Dec '09 comScore said that the average online viewer watched 762.6 minutes or 12.7 hours, more than double the 356 minutes viewed on average in Jan '09. Here's the really incredible stat: back in Jan '07, comScore pegged this number at just 151 minutes or about 2 1/2 hours, meaning average viewing time has more than quintupled in the last 3 years.

     

    I've talked many times about how YouTube is the 800 pound gorilla of the online video market, and 2009 only further cemented this. Videos viewed at YouTube surged from 6.3 billion in Jan '09 to 13.2 billion in Dec '09. To put this in perspective, Google closed its acquisition in Nov '06. In Jan '07 (the first month comScore publicly released online video data), YouTube notched 1.2 billion views. That means that in the 3+ years that Google has owned YouTube, it has grown more than 10x in size. More amazing is that even with all the growth by other sites (particularly Hulu), YouTube has kept up its approximate 40% share of the overall online video market, starting the year at 42.9% and ending at 39.8%.

     

    Speaking of Hulu, in its first full year of operation, the site surged from 250 million views in Jan '09 to 1,013 billion views in Dec '09. Unique viewers increased from 24.4 million in Jan '09 to 44.1 million in Dec '09. But if you look at the red line in the graph below, you'll see that uniques jumped to 41.6 million by Mar '09 which I believe must be due, at least in part, to a likely measurement change by comScore. Since Mar you'll notice that uniques hovered right around 40 million each month, dipping below during the summer and then bouncing back in Q4.

     

    A few months ago I speculated that Hulu's relatively flat pattern in uniques could suggest that, in its current configuration, Hulu may have saturated the market for its content and user experience (for example, contrast Hulu with YouTube, which grew its uniques by 33% in '09 to 135.8 million by Dec '09). I'll be looking to see if Hulu can notch more noteworthy increases in uniques during '10; if not, then I think my thesis will be proven correct.

    Nonetheless, Hulu's viewers clearly love the site, with average number of videos per viewer more than doubling to 22.9 in Dec '09, up from 9.8 in Dec '08. Users are spending more time on Hulu, increasing the amount of total minutes on the site from 58 in Mar '09 to 132 in Dec '09. What's remarkable though is that the average minutes watched per video (the yellow line below), has stayed virtually constant at around 6 minutes each month. That shows that while there's plenty of long-form consumption happening at Hulu, clips are still very popular too.

     

    comScore is a great source of month in and month out online video data, but as always my caveat is that no third party can ever track usage as closely as the sites themselves, so take these numbers with a small grain of salt!

    Click here if you'd like a complimentary PDF download of all of the slides.

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