Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 10:58 AM ET|Posted by Will RichmondNetflix subscribers appear to be spending far more time viewing the service's streaming content than do users of any other online video destination. According to new data Netflix released today, its 20 million subscribers consumed 2 billion hours of streaming TV shows and movies in Q4 '11. Using simple averages, that would mean each subscriber streamed 100 hours during the quarter, or approximately 2,000 minutes per month (about 33 hours). That's roughly 4 1/2 times the level of YouTube's time spent/viewer. According to comScore, YouTube, which dominates total monthly volume of online video, had approximately 151 million U.S. users in November, 2011, who viewed 444.5 minutes each, on average.
Netflix surely benefits from the fact that virtually all of its content is long-form and is subscription-based, whereas YouTube is mostly shorter clips that are free. However, even Hulu, which has plenty of TV shows, logged 199.3 minutes per viewer in November according to comScore, one-tenth of Netflix's time/viewer. All of comScore's remaining top 10 ranked video sites had less than 100 minutes per viewer per month.
Admittedly it can be sketchy to compare data from different sources, and the Netflix numbers are not validated by a third party. But if you take them at face value, they provide good evidence that Netflix streaming subscribers are getting lots of use out of the service, making it a pretty compelling value. I've been critical of Netflix's decision to over-emphasize streaming at the expense of diminishing DVDs, but at least for those subscribers taking advantage of streaming, Netflix appears to be the clear-cut market leader in usage.
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