Not to beat the point to death, but online video clearly has become a habit among users. In its first report on video since the middle of last year, Nielsen finds that video consumption (time spent) is up 45% in January 2011 over the same period last year. The number of streams increased 31.5% and the number of streams accessed per user for the month was up 27.5%. Even on a month-to-month basis, there remains good momentum, with overall time spent up 8.4% for January over December. Increased video consumption is becoming a more important growth driver as we approach the saturation point in audience penetration. With 143.9 million people accessing video online in January, the user base has expanded 3.1% since last year and 1.8% in the last month.
Among the top video brands online measured by uniques, YouTube continues to be three times as widespread as its nearest competitor, Facebook. But an interesting and important newcomer to the list is Netflix, now ranked as the tenth most visited video brand with 7.3 million uniques. Netflix becomes even more of a force when considering total stream, where its 200 million videos served in January places it fifth behind YouTube, Hulu, VEVO, and MSN. Considering that Netflix's Watch Instantly feature is part of a paid subscription, and that a fair share of those streams are full-length films, its ranking is remarkable. The real talk of the tape comes in overall time spent per viewer. Here, Netflix just crushes any comers with 11 hours and eight minutes per user, just about twice the time spent for Hulu (5:35). Speaking for myself, I can chew through 11 hours of Netflix in little more than a week.Also notable in the Nielsen charts is the persistent strength of AOL's Media Network, which still serves more than 9 million uniques with video. The company continues to emphasize its video strategy, even promising more clips for the recent HuffPo acquisition. It has partnered with several video companies in recent months to bring more programming into its fold. Still it does not make the cut of brands serving the most streams. On that list of top streamers MTV showed a 79.1% spike to take the 10th spot. As we reported recently, the latest season of Jersey Shore has been driving record traffic to the TV site in the past few weeks.