My son doesn't care where he watches his video -- and neither does most of his generation. In fact, 178 million viewers are now watching 33 billion videos online, according to comScore Video Metrix, December 2009. I have to wonder if Dave Morgan (author of last week's "The PC Will Not Beat the TV For Video Ad Dollars") has seen those numbers lately.
The fact that this viewership online is only capturing $1 billion in video advertising is a short-term issue. Some factors do need to be worked out. These include serving and tracking standardization, measurement -- and most of all, economics -- in order for our industry to close the revenue gap with TV. In order for more content to get on-board online, the means of tracking and measurement have to be worked out. I agree with many of the voices out there, from writer Daisy Whitney to Mindshare's Cary Tilds, that standardization is the last hurdle.
Once our industry organizes around common standards, the potential becomes unlimited. Hulu just announced that its audience has exceeded 100 million viewers. I'm proud to say that so did BBE's (yes, that's my company.) But viewership is not the barrier. The masses are tuning in, despite the lack of compelling, high-quality content. Cable TV suffered from this same fate early on.
The real barrier is content and the model necessary to make more of it. In order for the creative community to produce future hit shows for the online medium, they must understand the metrics around success. With common currency, the industry can scale in a way that TV has enjoyed since its ascent to the top of the media funnel. Ratings and share, brought to you by Nielsen, have allowed the TV industry to reign supreme for 50+ years -- and they're all that that stands in the way for Online Video.
The next generation of viewers, from my son Theo to the new Facebook generation, are ready to watch "TV Everywhere." Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner, may have coined the phrase, but the next generation of viewers live by it. IPhones, iPads, laptops and Xboxes -- they will all do. With a common standard of tracking and measurement, these devices will deliver the next wave of content, never seen before on a TV or on Home Box Office. The future of TV is digital, and the future of digital is online video.