Commentary

Video Viewing At Record Highs

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When I was a kid, my parents screamed for me to turn of the damned TV and go outside to play. It was a ploy and we all knew it. Mom and Pop just wanted to watch their own shows. Decades later I tell my daughter to turn down the damned video clips from her laptop while her father is trying to watch TV. There is a weird justice to this. My parents thought TV would turn me into a boob, whether they had the metrics to back it up or not. I confess to a small tugging fear that the hundreds of minute video clips my girl consumes every month had attention-deficit disorder written all over it. Yeah, I don't have any metrics to back that up either.

But the online video addiction is every bit as real for this generation as the TV jones was for mine. Nielsen reports that in May we hit a new streaming high of 15 billion videos viewed, up 2% from last month's record. The overall online video reach is now at 145 million in the U.S., also up 2.5% in a month. Interestingly the number of streams per month (+2.2%)is not growing quite as quickly as the audience, so the number of videos per user is off incrementally by .3% and time spent on video each month is down 3.8% month-to-month.

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The usual suspects are gathering the largest audience for video: YouTube (112M), VEVO (36.4M), Facebook (29.2M), Yahoo (26.2M) and Microsoft properties (17.9M). The middle of the pack is jockeying for position and seeing acceleration. Microsoft, Hulu, AOL and Fox Interactive Media experienced double-digit audience growth in the month. Both Microsoft and AOL in particular saw the number of their streams jump 26.9% and 25.2% respectively.  Nielsen says it excluded Netflix from its rankings this month because of data collection problems connected to changes made to the URLs serving the movie streamer's content.

Well, most people were tuning in online for fresher TV episodes than Netflix offers anyway. As the prime time season ended time spent at many of the networks' properties spiked. CW, ABC Family and Lifetime all saw their average viewing time per user rise by double digits even as time with YouTube and Hulu declined.

The real comers to watch in video metrics are the self-broadcasting engines UStream and Justin.TV, second and third only to Hulu in time spent and up 61.4% and 55.3% month to month.  
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