While monthly video viewing in the U.S. may be showing signs of leveling off, the British market is in serious growth mode. According to figures released today from comScore Video Metrix in the U.K. overall video viewing grew 37% between February 2009 and February 2010, with more than 5.5 billion streams viewed for the month. As in the U.S. Google's YouTube has the lion's share of that market, with slightly less than half of all videos served. While the market fragments quickly from there, the TV networks are growing rapidly. The BBC more than doubled its videos viewed last year to come in second place. Each visitor to the broadcaster's site consumes 15.7 videos a month. Before many U.S. networks and hulu started pouring prime time onto the Web, the BBC was developing its robust iPlayer portal and player. Unfortunately, rights restrictions keep Web users outside of the U.K. from sampling the site's many treasures. Much of the past week's programming across both TV and radio are available here in a handy console.
Channel 4, ITV and Sky are also among the top 10 most active video sites in Britain. comScore reports a wide range in audience composition and video consumption patterns across demographics for these sites. BBC skews considerably middle aged, for instance compared to Channel 4 and has more males. The younger Channel 4 audience views about three more videos a month. But women visiting Channel 4's site watch about five more videos per month than males.
U.K. video viewing is shadowing some of the patterns we saw emerge in the U.S. in recent years. Interest in user-gen and portal-based video at YouTube is peaking while traffic to longer-form TV-branded video is increasing.
Facebook is the big up-and-comer in U.K. video, however and clearly the one to watch. The social network saw the number of videos viewed rise 205%, to 42.6 million in February.The importance of Facebook to all online businesses, including video, was underscored last week by no less a video maven than Mark Cuban, co-founder of HDNet. In a post at his blog, Cuban mused that Facebook has become the new Internet, the place we now go to fill time in much the same way we channel surf TV. With its increasing knowledge of users and alternative means of discovering content via social sharing, he sees the network as a challenge to two of the biggest stakeholders in the digital universe. "Time will tell, but there is no question that Facebook is quickly becoming the biggest threat to the futures of Apple and Google," Cuban says. When it comes to video, Facebook clearly is about to be formidable worldwide.